In 2014 Lauren Ash conducted a master’s research project examining the use of remote sensing data to monitor change in seaweed habitat.
Large brown seaweeds are essential components of marine ecosystems and economically important. With rising temperatures and ocean acidification, seaweed habitat communities are at risk. Seaweed habitats are greatly understudied, possibly due to the fact that dive surveys are often time consuming, hazardous, and expensive. Remote sensing data offers an alternative for mapping the distribution of seaweed habitats at higher taxonomic levels. This study aimed to determine whether seaweed communities could be accurately predicted, mapped, and temporally analysed. Although our ground truthed models were unsuccessful, most likely due to the heterogeneity of seaweed habitats and the spatial error of the GPS, our remote surveyed models, with classifications visually assessed through high-resolution imagery, proved successful. Classifications for 2001 and 2013 habitats were predicted for the Thanet coast. We conclude that habitat change could be perceived with these models, potentially offering a tool for monitoring changes in macroalgal habitats and aiding conservation research.
Ash L (2014) Developing a tool for the monitoring of seaweed habitat change: Thanet coast a case study. BIOSG095: Research Project II. University College London. Supervised by Juliet Brodie & Chris Yesson. (PDF)