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Journal Article

Aerial Photography: A Rapidly Evolving Tool for Ecological Management

Jessica L. Morgan, Sarah E. Gergel and Nicholas C. Coops
Vol. 60, No. 1 (January 2010), pp. 47-59
DOI: 10.1525/bio.2010.60.1.9
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Page Count: 13
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Aerial Photography: A Rapidly Evolving Tool for Ecological Management
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Ecological monitoring and management require detailed information over broad spatial scales. Historically, such information was often acquired through manual interpretation of aerial photographs. As traditional methods of analyzing aerial photographs can be time-consuming, subjective, and can require well-trained interpreters (who are currently in short supply), new approaches must be explored for collecting this ecological information. First, we discuss the benefits and challenges of using aerial photographs for ecological management. We then examine the eight fundamental characteristics used in photograph interpretation and discuss their ecological relevance. Third, we investigate the feasibility of digital-analysis methods (often used for analysis of satellite imagery) for providing more objective, consistent, and cost-effective results. We end with several examples of how the unique information from aerial photographs can aid in solutions to emerging challenges in ecological research and management, and how they may be further used with supplementary data sets.

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