Habitat mapping sheds light on Anguilla’s marine environment

Habitat mapping sheds light on Anguilla’s marine environment

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UK: Following the creation of a new terrestrial habitat map of Anguilla in 2012, Environment Systems has embarked on Phase 2, which extends the project to the marine environment. Detailed baseline maps of habitat, vegetation, endemic species distribution, developed and vulnerable habitats are crucial to understand both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. In 2012 Environment Systems created a new a habitat map of Anguilla. The new map was created from Earth Observation data, including satellite, aerial photography and field survey data.

The second phase includes the creation of a marine habitat map, the enhancement of the existing terrestrial study in specified areas and the development of ecosystem services mapping and habitat change mapping. WorldView satellite image data has been used to establish spectral differences across habitat types to refine the distribution mapping of the ‘cactus garden’, limestone thicket, dry forest habitats and to develop a classification to identify areas of suitable habitat for Rondeletia anguillensis, one of Anguilla’s key endemic species. WorldView imagery has also been used to create a detailed bathymetric dataset to facilitate classification of the marine environment and produce a marine map of coral reefs, reef features, seagrass beds and other marine substrate classes.

“This has been a brilliant opportunity for Environment Systems to stretch its habitat mapping knowledge beyond the UK,” said Environment Director Dr Katie Medcalf. The maps will assist in providing the evidence needed to enable natural capital planning to enhance the future of the islands. The mapping will also be shared with other agencies and across the Anguillian Government,” continued Medcalf.

Source: Realwire