Utilizing NASA Earth Observations to Assist the Audubon Mississippi Coastal Bird Stewardship Program with Habitat Monitoring and Restoration Planning Activities

Author(s): Barrett, S.; Beasley, B.; Wylie, L.; McDaniel, B.; Bosarge, A.

Coastal and migratory bird habitats in Mississippi are highly dynamic and constantly threatened by human activity. Today, these coastal and migratory species can be found on managed public lands. However, as of 2014, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center (PRAC) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) reported shorebird populations in coastal Mississippi have declined. In response, the Mississippi Audubon Coastal Bird Stewardship Program (CBSP) plans to focus habitat management on approximately twenty sites in coastal Mississippi. Activities includes planning and conducting standardized monitoring, implementing best-practice restoration projects, and a campaign to educate diverse audiences to increase understanding of the threats to and environmental and societal benefits of coastal and migratory birds. To support these efforts, this NASA DEVELOP project used current Landsat 8 OLI imagery to produce habitat classification maps that incorporated land use land cover, vegetation health, and water quality indices of areas in coastal Mississippi where these vital bird habitats are located. The project yielded maps for declining coastal bird species such as the least tern. End products and methodologies aided end-users in focusing habitat restoration efforts based on individual species’ propensity to a particular area.

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