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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: 21 January 2022

Integrating Field Data

Integrating Field Data

(p.321) 13 Integrating Field Data
Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation

Ned Horning

Julie A. Robinson

Eleanor J. Sterling

Woody Turner

Sacha Spector

Oxford University Press

While the savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana) is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “vulnerable” because of declining abundance in some regions of Africa (Blanc 2008), populations in some protected areas of South Africa are growing rapidly (van Aarde and Jackson 2007). These populations can cause extensive modification of vegetation structure when their density increases (Owen-Smith 1996; Whyte et al. 2003; Guldemond and van Aarde 2007). Management methods such as culling, translocation, and birth control have not reduced density in some cases (van Aarde et al. 1999; Pimm and van Aarde 2001). Providing more space for elephants is one alternative management strategy, yet fundamental to this strategy is a clear understanding of habitat and landscape use by elephants. Harris et al. (2008) combined remotely sensed data with Global Positioning System (GPS) and traditional ethological observations to assess elephant habitat use across three areas that span the ecological gradient of historical elephant distribution. They explored influences on habitat use across arid savannahs (Etosha National Park in Namibia) and woodlands (Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa and Maputo Elephant Reserve in Mozambique). The researchers focused on three main variables—distance to human settlements, distance to water, and vegetation type. The authors used Landsat 7 ETMþ imagery to create vegetation maps for each location, employing supervised classification and maximum likelihood estimation. Across all sites, they recorded the coordinates of patches with different vegetation and of vegetation transitions to develop signatures for the maps. Elephants do not use all vegetation types, and it can be expedient to focus on presence rather than both presence and absence. Accordingly, the researchers used GPS to record the locations of elephants with the aim of identifying important land cover types for vegetation mapping. The authors mapped water locations in the wet and dry seasons using remotely sensed data and mapped human settlements using GPS, aerial surveys, and regional maps. They tracked elephants with radiotelemetry collars that communicated with the ARGOS satellite system, sending location data for most of the elephants over 24 h, and then remaining quiescent for the next 48 h to extend battery life.

Keywords:   color composite, field-based instruments, handheld sensors, land uses, mapping, observation, pelagic, radiance, scale, vegetation type

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