BioBase Applications benefiting conservation of UK’s Wetlands

Fisheries Scientist Jim Lyons from the UK’s Environment Agency has been in action over the last few months introducing Yorkshire Fisheries Officers to the benefits of the BioBase system. Following two days of survey work on a couple of gravel pit fisheries in the area the team received a report less than a week later.  Mike Lee from the local team and the angling clubs who manage the waters, were very impressed with the technique and the report generated. They have come away with a host of ideas about how to further use Lowrance Fish Finders and the Biobase System across their catchment in both river and Stillwater fisheries.

Further Mr. Lyons, recently presented to aquatic plant specialists from the Environment Agency, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales at Preston Montford Field Studies centre as part of the relaunch of the aquatic plant specialist’s network.

Area specialist are responsible for the technical lead for aquatic plant survey delivery within their Area, ensuring that all aquatic plant surveyors are suitably trained and have the relevant support to deliver their surveys. The specialists also play a key role in underpinning the delivery of the quality assurance programme.

Mr. Lyons talked about ‘Using acoustics and cloud-based technology to monitor aquatic weed.’ He shared with the group the benefits of using BioBase to inform weed management programmes. Enthusiastic feedback from the group has provided a number of potential new applications for this technology from across the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) family organisations present.

BioBaseSurveyShelteredLagoon

20191022 LWC19 BV Heatmap
Density of aquatic vegetation (% Biovolume) in Sheltered Lagoon, London Area UK.

BioBase Paper Published: Accuracy and Precision of Low-Cost Echosounder and Automated Data Processing Software for Habitat Mapping in a Large River

We are grateful to the aquatic research community who continue to verify and validate Consumer Sonar Technologies (Lowrance) and BioBase automated mapping platform to produce scientifically valid outputs that benefit aquatic conservation.  We are excited to see the recent publication of research out of the University of New Brunswick that evaluated the accuracy and precision of Lowrance and BioBase’s EcoSound depth and vegetation outputs.  The research is published in the open access journal Diversity and can be downloaded here. Below is the abstract

Abstract
The development of consumer hydroacoustic systems continues to advance, enabling the use of low-cost methods for professional mapping purposes. Information describing habitat characteristics produced with a combination of low-cost commercial echosounder (Lowrance HDS) and a cloud-based automated data processing tool (BioBase EcoSound) was tested. The combination frequently underestimated water depth, with a mean absolute error of 0.17 ± 0.13 m (avg ± 1SD). The average EcoSound bottom hardness value was high (0.37–0.5) for all the substrate types found in the study area and could not be used to differentiate between the substrate size classes that varied from silt to bedrock. Overall, the bottom hardness value is not informative in an alluvial river bed setting where the majority of the substrate is composed of hard sands, gravels, and stones. EcoSound separated vegetation presence/absence with 85–100% accuracy and assigned vegetation height (EcoSound biovolume) correctly in 55% of instances but often overestimated it in other instances. It was most accurate when the vegetation canopy was ≤25% or >75% of the water column. Overall, as a low-cost, easy-to-use application EcoSound offers rapid data collection and allows users with no specialized skill requirements to make more detailed bathymetry and vegetation maps than those typically available for many rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

EcoSound vs Manual Measures Vegetation Helminen et al 2019

BioBase EcoSound Composition (Hardness) Algorithm: More details!

The centralized nature of BioBase (biobasemaps.com) cloud technologies coupled with sophisticated, yet low-cost consumer electronics like Lowrance or Simrad depth sounders/chartplotters have created fertile grounds for developing, testing, and verifying algorithms for typing aquatic environments.  The more users upload from a greater range of systems, the more refined algorithms can become addressing a wider range of conditions and use cases!

Early in 2014, we released a revision to our EcoSound bottom composition (hardness) algorithm that is more sensitive and robust in a greater range of depths and bottom conditions.  Many outside researchers were involved with collecting important “ground truth” information while they logged their BioBase data.  This blog not only serves to describe the new Bottom Composition algorithm, but also publish the results and acknowledge the scientists that helped with this effort.

Continue reading “BioBase EcoSound Composition (Hardness) Algorithm: More details!”

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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Guest Blog: Correlations between EcoSound Biovolume and Aquatic Plant Biomass

Andrew W. Howell and Dr. Robert J. Richardson
 
North Carolina State University; Dept. Crop and Soil Sciences
 
Why do we want to sample submersed vegetation biomass using sonar?

Invasive aquatic plants, such as non-native hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), negatively impact waterway systems in the southeastern United States and on a global scale. Often, these aquatic weed species impede recreational activities, power generation, and disrupt native ecological systems. Costs associated with aquatic weed management include expenses accompanied with monitoring, mapping, and implementing control measures. Prompt detection and accurate mapping of submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) are critical components when formulating management decisions and practices. Therefore, SAV management protocols are often reliant upon the perceived extent of invasion. Traditional biomass sampling techniques have been widely utilized, but often require significant labor inputs, which limits repeatability, the scale of sampling, and the rapidness of processing. Advances in consumer available hydroacoustic technology (sonar) and data post-processing offer the opportunity to estimate SAV biomass at scale with reduced labor and economic requirements.

The objectives of this research were to document the use of an off-the-shelf consumer sonar/gps chartplotter to: 1) describe and characterize a relationship between hydroacoustic biovolume signature to measured hydrilla biomass; 2) develop algorithm for on-the-fly assessment of hydrilla biomass from interpolated biovolume records; 3) define seasonal hydrilla growth patterns at two NC piedmont reservoirs; and 4) create a visual representation of SAV development over time. From these objectives, the expected outcome was to describe a protocol for passive data collection while reducing the economic inputs associated with labor efforts involved in biomass sampling and post-processing evaluations. In our research, a Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2 was utilized to correlate biomass from monospecific stands of hydrilla within two different North Carolina piedmont reservoirs using BioBase 5.2 (now marketed as EcoSound – http://www.biobasemaps.com), cloud-based algorithm to aid in post-processing.

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C-MAP PARTNERS WITH EOMAP TO RELEASE ECOSAT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22nd 2017

Emanuela Ferina
Global Marketing Manager, C-MAP
emanuela.ferina@c-map.com

Ray Valley
Aquatic Biologist & Biobase Product Expert 
ray.valley@c-map.com 

Building on the Power of the BioBase Cloud Mapping Platform, New Product Generates Full Inventories of Shallow Water Habitats

C-MAP®, a leading supplier of digital navigation products to the maritime market, in partnership with a global leader in remote sensing services, EOMAP GmbH & Co KG, announced today the launch of EcoSat.
A new semi-automated wetland and coastal habitat mapping product that is part of the BioBase Cloud Mapping Platform, EcoSat uses the unique reflectance properties of vegetation and sea bottoms from high resolution satellite imagery and creates distinct polygon objects with spatial properties like area and perimeter. EcoSat’s power is doubled when combined with its sister product EcoSound which uses sonar and GPS data files to map depth and submerged vegetation. EcoSat complements BioBase’s core functionality of submerged habitat mapping with sonar with new capabilities to inventory habitats in vast nearshore areas of aquatic environments. Aquatic habitat managers across the globe can use EcoSat to quickly assess and monitor changes in wetland complexes, shallow lakes, tidal estuaries and marshes, and benthic habitats. EcoSat will also be an invaluable tool for the assessment and monitoring of invasive aquatic plants. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) is currently using EcoSat and EcoSound to generate full aquatic vegetation inventories in high profile Florida lakes.
“The combination of the latest habitat image classification procedures and the high-performance of the BioBase Cloud environment brings significant benefits to all users that don’t have access to large data processing capacities,” said Marcus Bindel, EOMAP data analyst.
Leveraging the expertise of a team of remote sensing experts at EOMAP, EcoSat rapidly processes raw satellite imagery and creates unique habitat classifications (e.g., polygons in a shapefile). Shapefiles and raw imagery – that are often hundreds of megabytes – are uploaded and processed by BioBase’s powerful cloud-based servers. Shapefiles and imagery are stored in a user’s or organization’s private online account for easy access and sharing. BioBase customers can interact with these detailed EcoSat files simply with any internet-enabled device. Users can also export custom charts of the EcoSat classifications to their Lowrance or Simrad chartplotter and navigate directly to a habitat of interest.
“BioBase is a first-of-its-kind, off-the-shelf cloud solution for organizations and businesses that need full aquatic habitat inventories quickly,” said Greg Konig, head of product development, C-MAP. “Prior to BioBase automated mapping technologies, aquatic managers and researchers would spend countless hours at high costs just to produce a map. But not anymore.”
For more information on C-MAP Light Marine and Commercial products, visit www.c-map.com. For more information about EcoSat and the BioBase Cloud Mapping Platform, visit www.cibiobase.com.
About C-MAP:
C-MAP is a world-leading provider of marine information with products ranging from electronic navigational charts to fleet management, vessel and voyage optimization. C-MAP offers the world’s largest marine navigation digital chart database, helping customers to address the complexity of maritime operations through integrated, intelligent information systems. For more information, visit www.c-map.com.
Processed polygons of emergent vegetation beds in Lake Tohopekaliga, FLfrom high resolution satellite imagery combined with submerged vegetation mapped with BioBase – EcoSound

Download automatically created Lowrance or Simrad Chart files from EcoSat and verify classifications directly from your watercraft  

BioBase EcoSound does Seagrass, Kelp, and Tides Too!

Although BioBase EcoSound was originally developed for aquatic vegetation mapping in inland lakes, users along both US Coasts have helped us diversify its toolbox to now be a powerful coastal habitat mapping tool as well!

One of the biggest challenges of mapping coastal habitats is their tidal influence with depths changing harmonically based on the moon phase and other factors.  Fortunately, however, widespread tide stations and large public databases of tide predictions allow for accurate and precise offsets to georeferenced and time-stamped sonar logs from Lowrance HDS or Elite units uploaded to BioBase EcoSound.  BioBase EcoSound immediately queries the nearest tide station to your upload (up to 75 km) and adjusts your depth and seagrass or kelp biovolume to the Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) datum every 5 minutes.  Tidal statistics (Avg., start, stop, high, low,) are archived in your account for each trip.

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Virtual Eyes to See Aquatic Resources in 3D

One of the biggest challenges to understanding aquatic resources are the optical properties of water and an inability of our human eyes to see the complex world that lurks beneath the surface.  In contrast, when “aeroplanes” (that’s what they were called in the Wright Brother’s days) first took flight in the early 1900’s and pilots figured out how to fix cameras to the belly to take aerial photos, it opened up a new world of exploration for biologists and foresters studying terrestrial landscapes.  The term “landscape” got a whole new meaning.

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ciBioBase Vegetation Mapping

We love to show off the accuracy of our submerged vegetation mapping algorithm.  Check out this break in the weeds that was picked up and clearly displayed in the ciBioBase vegetation layer:

The BioBase vegetation layer is automatically generated by powerful cloud computers so you receive an objective output every time.  The white line on the right and red dot on the left show the boat position as a cross section and aerial view of the water column respectively. 

Submerged vegetation is displayed as percent biovolume (BV%) which represents the percent of the water column occupied by plants.  This provides a clear picture of total plant abundance from each trip on the water.  Data can be passively logged because none of our users have to do any of the processing when they get back to the office.  Do what you were already planning to do and our automated system will take care of the rest.

Let us know if you have any questions about how this process works!

Detect Change in Your Lake Before it’s Too Late!

Citizens all over the globe love their lakes and go to great lengths and spend lots of money to protect and manage them.  In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency supports a multitude of State, Local, and citizen efforts to monitor water quality in lakes and has implemented a rigorous National Lakes Assessment.  Despite these efforts, lakes across the nation continue to be impacted from runoff pollution and invasive species proliferation under our noses. How does this happen?

Continue reading “Detect Change in Your Lake Before it’s Too Late!”