Thorner, J.; Kumar, L., and Smith, S.D.A., 2013. Fine-scale three-dimensional habitat mapping as a biodiversity conservation tool for intertidal rocky reefs.
Habitat mapping is a useful tool for ecologists to analyze spatial data. Rocky shore ecosystems comprise a mosaic of habitat types and therefore require good technology to extract fine-scale spatial data on habitat extent and quality. Airborne topographic light detection and ranging data and 0.1-m resolution digital aerial photography were used to map and quantify distinct habitats that influence the distribution of biodiversity on rocky shores. The objectives of this study were to create and test the accuracy of a classification system for the rocky shore habitat, to develop remote sensing techniques useful for the conservation of intertidal rocky shores, and to create detailed digital terrain models for five headlands in the Solitary Island Marine Park, mid-north coast, New South Wales, Australia. The intertidal rocky shore habitats were classified according to tidal heights and substrate type. Ground-truthing of remote sensing data was carried out by visual surveys during low tide. Error assessments using precision analysis and classification accuracy tests confirmed the reliability of the technique with <5% error. The data generated from this research can be used as a platform for spatial analysis of this environment, including modelling changes in biodiversity under different climate change scenarios.