Analysis of herpetofauna habitats concerning terrain features using remote sensing
By Jord van Rossum
Habitat mapping for ecological research using remote sensing data sources is still in its early stage. The Sierra Nevada is a mountainous area located in South-Western Spain, in which temporal breeding ponds are a critical habitat for various types of herpetofauna. This research explores different remote sensing data sources for modelling and mapping the terrain around a set of temporal breeding ponds in the Sierra Nevada. The terrain features which are investigated in this project are slope, aspect, topography and vegetation. These features have been gathered using UAV imagery, publicly available LiDAR-derived elevation models and a fieldwork campaign. Consequently, the resulting maps of these data sources have been compared per feature and a potential relation between the feature and species richness of a pond has been investigated. This analysis found that, UAV data is an excellent choice for mapping the slope and aspect of the terrain, while for the topography the large scale public data is a better choice. For the vegetation height, de most viable data source depends on the type of vegetation. For high density vegetation, UAV data is a better choice, while for low density vegetation, the public data showed better results. In the species to feature analysis, only the slope feature showed a clear relationship between the degree of steepness of the slope and species richness of a temporal breeding pond.