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Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in Aquatic Plant Identification

Zarzar, C. M., Dash, P., Dyer, J., Turnage, G., & Moorhead, R. J. (2015). Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in Aquatic Plant Identification. Midsouth Aquatic Plant Society Meeting. Mobile, AL.

Abstract

The ability to quickly collect high resolution imagery using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) is known to be useful for survey and monitoring applications. Now, the focus needs to be on exploring potential applications UAS have in research. The potential is great as UAS offer high spatial resolution imagery at unmatched temporal resolutions. This type of information will prove invaluable to a variety of research topics including hydrology, ecology, and water quality. Work at Mississippi State University addresses these research topics using data from a UAS flown over the delta of the Pearl River near Slidell, LA every two months. The current project investigates the possibility of differentiating vegetation types using the high spatial and spectral resolutions of the UAS with high precision. Therefore, it will be possible to extract information such as the location and prevalence of invasive species. This more precise vegetation classification will also lead to more precise land vs water classifications. This could be especially important for areas where vegetation grows on the top of the water. A typical classification identifies floating vegetation as land. However, it should be identified as water because there is a column of water below these plant species. Classification of vegetation types in the system is important for more robust hydrological modeling. Additionally, higher spatial and temporal resolutions of UAS will provide important monitoring applications of the health and propagation of different vegetation types thus allowing resource managers to make more informed decisions about protecting Earth’s natural resources.


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