Metta Nicholson Rose Hills
Investigating the strength of remote sensing technologies in analyzing wetland biodiversity
Wetlands are habitats valued for their ecosystem services, nutrient cycling abilities, biodiversity, and buffering capacity, but have been rapidly declining since the eighteenth century. Only recent efforts have attempted to address wetland decline, and such large-scale analyses of wetland composition face complications regarding the difficulty of site access and the impacts that direct field investigations can have on vulnerable species. To address these difficulties, remote sensing tools can be used to map and analyze wetland vegetation. However, wetland biodiversity indicators from remote sensing data remain limited in strength and are heavily context-dependent. My project will work to fill this gap by analyzing the effects of two important confounding issuesdominance of alien species and woody vegetationon our ability to predict wetland biodiversity using satellite images, focusing on a unique national-scale sample of 1138 USA wetland sites. Although previous work has shown that both factors may affect spectral properties of wetlands, their effects on remote sensing indicators of biodiversity have not been thoroughly explored, especially at such a large and comprehensive scale.