• Academic publication

Mapping the delivery of ecological functions combining field collected data and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Schenone S, Azhar M, Ramírez C, Strozzi, A, Delmas P & Thrush S (September 2021)

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Mapping ecosystem functions and services is important for ecosystem management and conservation. Mapping methods for terrestrial ecosystems are well established and mainly rely on land cover, but creating such maps for marine systems is not easy. In particular, soft-sediment marine habitats are very patchy and data on the distribution of communities and habitats is scarce and difficult to collect.

Present mapping relies primarily on using abiotic variables and physical attributes, easier to obtain at broad scale, and therefore maps frequently underestimate the underlying biodiversity and patchiness. We developed a mapping method that can handle situations where only a limited amount of data can be collected. We combined field measurements of species abundance and benthic fluxes to create models and then used data from a drone survey of the distribution of selected sediment microtopographic features linked to specific species to extrapolate to the broader estuary with high resolution.