Training EcoSat Vegetation Classifications: User tips

What is EcoSat?
EcoSat delivers a one-of-it’s-kind semi-automated cloud processing of very high resolution satellite imagery to map nearshore vegetation and coastal benthic habitats.  EcoSat uses the latest multi-spectral imagery from reputable providers such as Digital Globe (World View 2,3 and 4), Airbus Defence and Space (Pleiades), and ESA’s Sentinel program and industry standard image processing techniques.  Sophisticated Amazon Web Service cloud infrastructure rapidly processes imagery, creates reports and imagery tiles, and delivers detailed habitat maps to user’s BioBase dashboard where it can be analyzed and shared.  Average turnaround time from imagery tasking order to delivery of results is 60 days.  The rapid and standard processing methods are allowing entities like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish regular monitoring programs for emergent vegetation.  The extremely long and expensive one-off nature of conventional remote sensing mapping projects using non-repeatable tailored techniques has prevented natural resource entities from assessing the degree that habitats are changing as a result of environmental stressors such as invasive species invasions and climate change.

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Portability Options for Your Lowrance

We recently sent out a mailer to our subscribers letting them know about the portability solutions that we have come up with.  Within minutes we received photos and details from many of our customers about how some they have used a little ingenuity to mount their Lowrance units on unique water craft.  Below we have a photo gallery of images that could help you design your own portable setup.  Of primary importance, however, is a mount that minimizes cavitation (air bubbles) directly under the transducer (e.g., surface noise) and maintaining a correct angle on the transducer.  See recent blogs on this topic. The preferable solution is to permanently mount separate transducers following DIY guidance like shown here on each survey craft and just move the Lowrance Elite or HDS display from boat to boat.  But if the job calls for a fully portable mount, we can help!

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BioBase Helps Manage Honeoye Lake Macrophyte Harvesting Program

Guest Blog By Terry R. Gronwall, Chairman of the Honeoye Lake Watershed Task Force (Honeoye, NY)
Honeoye Lake is one of the smaller (~1,800 acres) Finger Lakes in Upstate New York.  We have been managing our macrophyte population by using a harvester for about 25 years.  The objective of our harvesting program is to both provide relief for the recreational lake users and to remove biomass containing phosphorus from the lake every summer.  We average around 800 wet tons of biomass removed per season.

When we learned about ciBiobase we saw this service as a way to make our macrophyte harvesting operation more efficient by concentrating our efforts on areas in the lake that have macrophytes growing through most of the water column.  This is shown as the red zone on our macrophyte maps.  We plan to monitor our actual harvesting rates relative to our macrophyte maps over the summer harvesting season to see if we achieve our goal of increased productivity.

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CHIRP from a bottom mapping perspective

Maybe you’ve been hearing about this term in sonar circles called “Chirp” and noticing that most consumer sonar units now come with Chirp capability. Indeed, Chirp is a game changer for more precise definition of acoustic targets suspended from bottom (e.g., fish) and the technology is helping more anglers find fish in a wide range of aquatic environments (Figure 1).  But what does Chirp mean for mapping the bottom of waterbodies?  Does it provide any advantages or disadvantages over traditional 200 kHz frequency broadband sonar that is the foundation of Insight Genesis and BioBase
EcoSound mapping services?  Here we take a brief look at Chirp, explain what it is, and present some findings from preliminary tests in a couple of different lake environments.

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Transect Design: Consideration of Scale

One of the most frequently asked questions by BioBase EcoSound users is, “how far apart should I space my transects for creating maps?”  Although as always, the most appropriate response is: “it depends,” we still offer solutions below that cover the most common use case scenarios.  We thank our partners at NC State University Department of Crop Science for contributing useful data from Waccamaw Lake in North Carolina USA.

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New Polygon and UPI Treatment Tools

One of the most popular features of BioBase is the polygon tool that allows users the ability to trace out areas of their maps for detailed calculations of mapped attributes (e.g., area, depth, water volume, aquatic vegetation statistics).  Until now, users could not use the same polygon on multiple trips.  That has changed and now any polygon a user creates in any trip will be available in all trips to that waterbody!  Now, users can monitor change to aquatic habitat within specific areas of interest (Figure 1).  Further, users can upload and overlay waypoints within polygons, and thus inform the composition of the polygon area (e.g., aquatic plants, substrate composition, muck depths, reefs, etc.)
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Citizen Lake Mapping: Power of Aggregation!

Ten Mile Lake in Hackensack, Minnesota is one of many crown jewel lakes of Minnesota.  It’s no wonder the Ten Mile Lake Association is serious about lake monitoring and conservation.  When BioBase approached TMLA member and hobby Fisheries Biologist Dr. Bruce Carlson in late 2012 demonstrating how members could passively log their sonar data and map habitat while enjoying a pleasure cruise or fishing, Dr. Carlson jumped at the opportunity.

Two hundred and twenty four trips spanning two seasons (2013-2014) and 5,065 acres (2,049 ha) later, Dr. Carlson and colleagues have produced the most accurate and detailed map of Ten Mile Lake on the planet (Figure 1)!

Figure 1. Track lines from 224 Lowrance sonar logs uploaded to BioBase and merged (left) and resultant contour map (right) produced automatically for Ten Mile Lake, Hackensack, MN USA.  Ten Mile Lake is a 208-ft (63-m) deep lake with 16-ft (5-m) clarity.

When comparing the hand-made maps of 1947 from the long-dissolved MN Dept of Conservation one has to wonder if creating this map took a dedicated and highly trained survey crew all summer to create this map (Figures 2-4)?  Now a critical mass of anglers or pleasure boaters with no mapping experience can create a community-sourced contour map that rivals anything produced by the most trained hydrologists using the most expensive “survey-grade” echosounders.

Figure 2. Original map of Ten Mile Lake created in 1947 by the MN Department of Conservation (left) next to the aggregated map produced by TMLA volunteers in 2014 after uploading to BioBase.  Maps created in the mid 20th Century remain the only maps offered to anglers and recreationists by a large number State Natural Resource agencies. Often these old maps are digitized and artfully recontoured and shaded for resale.
Figure 3. Close up of the 10-ft contours displayed in the 1947 Department of Conservation map compared with the 2014 aggregated map created by TMLA volunteer uploads to BioBase.
Figure 4. Tight zoom of 10-ft contours from 1947 MN Department of Conservation map (ink blob on top) compared with 3-ft contours from aggregated map created by TMLA volunteer uploads to BioBase.

Not just an improvement in aesthetics!
The efforts of TMLA and volunteers from other Lake Associations across the US (e.g., Lake Paradise, Honeoye, Prior Lake) are producing not only pretty maps but also updated digital maps for the public and highly detailed fish habitat and aquatic plant data for aquatic researchers and managers.

First, public trips uploaded and aggregated both from BioBase and C-MAP Genesis mapping services from anywhere across the globe go to Social Map where they are available for viewing and downloading for free to Lowrance, Simrad, and B&G chartplotters (Figures 5 and 6).

Figure 5.  Insight Genesis Social Map coverage of Sweden.

 

Figure 6. Example map of Anten (Sweden) as viewed from Insight Genesis social map.  Professionals (BioBase) and Anglers (Insight Genesis) can community-source their mapping efforts to “fill-in” unmapped areas and create up to date digital maps for the public.

Second, Fisheries across the globe are threatened by a range of impacts too long to go into detail here and Aquatic Invasive Species are a global pandemic.  Researchers and managers mourn the decline of native aquatic species and often target habitat degradation or loss as a primary driver.  But rarely does information on habitat match the detail of the information on species declines. Citizen Scientists are now helping Natural Resource Agencies fill in the habitat knowledge gaps.  Returning to our example on Ten Mile Lake, now with updated bathymetry provided by TMLA volunteers and data sharing with MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Fisheries researchers have precise knowledge about how much cold, well oxygenated water is available for cisco (an important cold-water forage fish for popular gamefish).  Similarly, thanks to the efforts of the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District and citizen volunteers on Prior and Spring Lakes, the response of invasive aquatic plants to watershed and in-lake management actions can be monitored.

Harnessing the power of technology and citizen science to conserve aquatic resources
“Doing more with less” or “working smarter not harder” are common cliché truths that will continue to limit the reach of publicly funded natural resource management programs into the foreseeable future. Through advances in affordable off-the-shelf consumer technology, automation, and the collective enthusiasm of citizen volunteers, good information on aquatic habitat need’nt suffer from declining public natural resource budgets.  Rather, by enrolling the help of citizens and technology such as described here, aquatic biologists and managers can focus their energies on using the information to make wise aquatic resource management decisions.

Recently Published: Aquatic Plant Dominance and BioBase

We are happy to report the first BioBase-focused paper finally published in the peer-reviewed literature:  “Combining hydroacoustic and point-intercept survey methods to assess aquatic plant species abundance patterns and community dominance.” The paper is co-authored by Navico staff and researchers from Minnesota (Donna Dustin), Florida (Dean Jones), and North Carolina (Justin Nawrocki) and published in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of Aquatic Plant Management.  The paper describes a simple technique for combining aquatic plant species presence/absence information with detailed aquatic plant abundance metrics processed by BioBase [EcoSound] from Lowrance sonar logs to generate detailed information on what aquatic plant species are dominating a mapped lake.  The technique has the potential to greatly advance our understanding of the conditions that cause invasive aquatic plants to “take-over” (a colloquial term for dominate) lakes and provide an objective benchmark from which to evaluate aquatic plant management interventions.

Below is the abstract.  Please contact corresponding author Ray Valley (ray.valley@navico.com) if you are interested in a copy of the paper.

Many ecosystem goods and services are derived from aquatic plant–dominated environments and the abundance and composition of aquatic plant communities affects habitat, recreation, angling, aesthetics, and commerce. We describe standardized hydroacoustic methodology that complements species composition surveys and generates comprehensive aquatic plant abundance data with little additional assessment or analysis effort than is already put forth for species surveys. Using data from 22 lakes across the United States, collected by biologists with varying levels of expertise, we compare hydroacoustically derived biovolume with two other semiquantitative measures of whole-lake abundance (frequency of occurrence and ‘‘rake fullness’’). Although we documented some significant correlations between hydroacoustically derived biovolume and frequency and rake fullness, frequency or rake fullness was difficult to interpret biologically on a lakewide scale. We also describe a dominance index that incorporates both species composition and vegetation biovolume to evaluate the degree that a species dominates a local assemblage. We found that the extent of aquatic plant growth and invasive dominance was related to lake productivity with highest biovolume and dominance occurring in mesotrophic to eutrophic study lakes. Using both empirical and simulated data, we also found no significant differences between dominance calculated from a simple metric that gives equal weight to all species at a survey site and a metric that incorporated rake fullness for each species.

How do natural fluctuations factor into your lake management?

Since its inception in 2011, BioBase has helped a large number of lake managers and researchers across the globe create detailed, near real-time aquatic plant abundance maps.  But what happens when “real-time” becomes a “long-time?”  What is the “natural” range of aquatic plant growth in lakes? To what degree does an invasive species change the total plant abundance in a lake over the long-term? Likewise, to what degree does the removal of the invasive through management affect plant abundance within this historical context? These are questions research has yet to answer.   Why not given how much is at stake??

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Need a Custom Map? We’ll make you one!

BioBase’s primary strength is an automated map creation engine designed to take thousands raw of data signals from your Lowrance and rapidly summarize them into informative maps.  These maps have helped aquatic resource professionals throughout the globe make more informed aquatic management decisions.

But BioBase also creates maps that are rather pleasing to the eye and many have asked how they might be able to create customized digital or print maps for their clients.  We offer two solutions that will help you create professional quality maps. First, we offer basic support of viewing and analyzing BioBase data in QGIS and have produced several do-it-yourself tutorials that are available in your BioBase Support & Resources.  Second, we offer GIS Services to BioBase customers who lack expertise in GIS or the proper software licenses.  Below we present a gallery of images from these projects.  Identities and locations of projects have been changed or omitted to protect the privacy of the customers.

We’ll create a map for you!
Navico offers custom GIS services where interested customers fill out an order form specifying their needs.  Navico GIS staff will transfer the appropriate BioBase data to ArcMap 10.x and any ancillary GIS shapefiles (e.g., sampling waypoints or other points of interest) and produce a custom-sized, high resolution digital map that you can have printed online or at a local print shop.  Email us at info.biobase@navico.com to get print and pricing details.

Multiple BioBase maps can be combined into one map and exported as any image format and custom sized.  Send us your logo and we’ll add it to the map.
Request transparency to the image to show floating leaf vegetation in the aerial imagery.
Send us points of interest to add to the map.  In this case, navigation hazards in front of a land owner’s property
Send us sediment depth point data and if sufficient, we’ll interpolate and create a sediment depth map (left) and pare it with other BioBase maps (in this case aquatic vegetation biovolume).
Would you like to add water body statistics? We’ll add full lake summaries or summaries by depth.  You tell us the contour interval and units.
An example where a customer desired to simulate the pond depth at a significantly higher water elevation than when mapped with BioBase. Customer used survey-grade GPS to generate precise land elevation data while walking along the soon-to-be-inundated shore.  Customer submitted these point elevation data to Navico along with a high-water shoreline for incorporation into the lake map.
If you have any custom mapping or presentation needs with your BioBase data contact us today at info.biobase@navico.com and we’ll provide you with an order form and generate a quote and delivery timeline for your map.