Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Assessing techniques for estimating the extent of mangroves: topographic maps, aerial photographs and Landsat TM images

F. J. Manson, N. R. Loneragan, I. M. McLeod and R. A. Kenyon

Marine and Freshwater Research 52(5) 787 - 792
Published: 2001


Coastal habitats are critical to the sustained production of many fisheries. It is important, therefore, that fishery managers obtain accurate estimates of the extent of these habitats. This study investigated three methods of estimating the linear extent and area of mangroves (commercially available topographic data, aerial photographs and Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite imagery) in two regions in northern Australia: the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf (in particular, the Berkeley and Lyne Rivers) with typically narrow fringes of mangroves (<50 m wide), and the Embley River on Cape York Peninsula,with much broader mangrove stands (50–1000 m wide). Ground-truthing verified that aerial photographs provided the most accurate estimates of extents of mangroves in all rivers,because of their high spatial resolution (2 m). Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery gave good estimates of the area of habitats, but, because of the 30 m pixel resolution, it underestimated the linear extent in places where the mangrove fringe was narrow. Topographic data gave good estimates of the extent of mangroves where the forests were more extensive and less linear in shape, but were very poor otherwise at this scale. These findings have implications for the use of remote sensing techniques in ecological studies in these regions.

© CSIRO 2001

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