Baseline Monitoring of Ecosystem and Socioeconomic Indicators for MPAs along the North Central Coast of California—High-Resolution Nearshore Substrate Mapping and Persistence Analysis with Multispectral Aerial Imagery

Start/End: March, 2010 to December, 2013

Aerial imaging technology, coupled with multispectral analyses, will be employed to map habitats and coverage of macroalgae, plants and bottom substrates in subtidal and intertidal ecosystems along the North Central Coast, at resolutions ranging from 40 centimeters to 2 meters. The high-resolution, geo-referenced maps will make it possible to evaluate changes in kelp coverage and other indicators over time, within and outside the marine protected areas. Because kelp cover and other indicators may vary on seasonal cycles unrelated to the new regulations, scientists will conduct time-series analyses to estimate persistent (average) and variable components of kelp, eelgrass, surf grass and pickle weed distributions. Substrate will be classified and then validated in the field. The final products will include a set of raw-image data files, calibrated and assembled, as well as GIS-compatible habitat maps.