Castellanos-Galindo, Gustavo A., Casella, Elisa, Tavera, Hector, Zapata Padilla, Luis Alonso and Simard, Marc (2021) Structural Characteristics of the Tallest Mangrove Forests of the American Continent: A Comparison of Ground-Based, Drone and Radar Measurements. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 4 . DOI

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The Panama Bight eco-region along the Pacific coast of central and South America is considered to have one of the best-preserved mangrove ecosystems in the American continent. The regional climate, with rainfall easily reaching 5–8 m every year and weak wind conditions, contribute to the exceptionally tall mangroves along the southern Colombian and northern Ecuadorian Pacific coasts (Nariño Department and Esmeraldas Province areas). Here we evaluate the use of different methods (ground-based measurements, drone imagery and radar data [Shuttle Radar Topography mission-SRTM and TanDEM-X]) to characterize the structure of the tallest of these forests. In November 2019, three mangrove sites with canopy heights between 50 and 60 m, previously identified with SRTM data, were sampled close to the town of Guapi, Colombia. In addition to in situ field measurements of trees, we conducted airborne drone surveys in order to generate georeferenced orthomosaics and digital surface models (DSMs). We found that the extensive mangrove forests in this area of the Colombian Pacific are almost entirely composed of Rhizophora spp. trees. The tallest mangrove tree measured in the three plots was 57 m. With ca. 900 drone photographs, three orthomosaics (2 cm pixel–1 resolution) and digital surface models (3.5 cm pixel–1) with average area of 4,0 ha were generated. The field-measured canopy heights were used to validate the drone-derived and radar-derived data, confirming these mangrove forests as the tallest in the Americas. The drone-derived orthomosaics showed significant patches of the Golden Leather Fern, Acrostichum aureum, an opportunistic species that can be associated to mangrove degradation, indicating that the mangrove forests investigated here may be threatened from increased selective logging requiring improvements and effective implementation of the current mangrove management plans in Colombia. The techniques used here are highly complementary and may represent the three tiers for carbon reporting, whereby the drone-derived canopy height maps, calibrated with local in situ measurements, provides cheap but reliable Tier 3 estimates of carbon stocks at the project level.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Integrated Modelling > Data Science and Technology
Science Management
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
ISSN: 2624-893X
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2021 13:58
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:31

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