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Remote Sensing for Ecology and ConservationA Handbook of Techniques$
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Ned Horning, Julie A. Robinson, Eleanor J. Sterling, Woody Turner, and Sacha Spector

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199219940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199219940.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 January 2022

Terrain and Soils

Terrain and Soils

(p.120) 5 Terrain and Soils
Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation

Ned Horning

Julie A. Robinson

Eleanor J. Sterling

Woody Turner

Sacha Spector

Oxford University Press

Building on the foundations of working with images and measuring land cover and vegetation in the previous two chapters, we now add the discussion of elevation and geology. Terrain attributes (such as elevation, slope, and aspect) and soil characteristics affect the distribution of most taxa and are therefore critical for effective biodiversity monitoring and conservation. Remote sensing is the primary tool for collecting terrain information from local to global scales. This chapter will provide an overview of different types of terrain data that you can collect using remote sensing methods as well as how you can visualize and analyze these data. We will also highlight applications using terrain data to illustrate how they and their derived products can aid the conservation biologist or ecologist. In addition to landforms, this section will look at how remote sensing technology can provide information about geology and soils. Box 5.1 provides an example of how elevation data and satellite imagery helped in selecting field sites. The fundamental measurement used to create terrain data is elevation. In this section we discuss elevation measurements in detail. First, we define elevation and then describe common data formats. Next we present an overview of you can acquire elevation values and then we will present examples of how elevation data are useful in biodiversity conservation and how you can use these data to improve the geometric and radiometric qualities of remote sensing imagery. This section concludes with a discussion of some of the methods used to analyze and visualize terrain data. Before discussing the use of elevation data it is useful to define what is meant by “elevation” and other related terms. A general definition for elevation is that it is the vertical distance measured from a point to a reference surface. This may seem pretty straightforward, but accurately defining the location of a point or a reference surface in the vertical dimension can be quite difficult. When measuring an elevation you need to define a reference surface. This reference surface is called a vertical datum. A common reference (or datum) for elevation measurements is sea level. Many maps, for instance, label elevation as meters or feet above sea level.

Keywords:   biodiversity, canopy, datum, ellipsoid, filter, geology, hydrologically correct DEM, image processing software, land covers

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