Publication Abstract

Improving Created Wetland Function with Data from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Landry, M., Rogers, D., Linder, C., Moorhead, R. J., Turnage, G., Hathcock, L. A., Wasson, L. L., Young, D. A., & Meacham, S. D. (2016). Improving Created Wetland Function with Data from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Restore America’s Estuaries 8th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and 25th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society. New Orleans, LA: Restore America’s Estuaries and The Coastal Society.


Large-scale coastal wetland creation is typically accomplished by placing hydraulically dredged material into a confined area where it de-waters and settles to a designed elevation. The result is a, flat homogeneous platform with minimal habitat variability. Approaches to increase habitat function on newly created marsh often include the removal of barriers to tidal exchange (such as containment dikes) and the excavation of tidal channels to provide variability in habitat and increase land/water edge interface. Typically, the location and specification of these additional habitat features are part of the initial project design and do not consider post-construction site conditions which could be integrated to improve habitat function. By identifying a means to measure minor variability in the elevation of the constructed wetland platform, project managers can connect areas of lower elevation with the excavation of tidal channels. Identifying and connecting existing depressions in the newly created wetland platform can maximize habitat function and minimize the cost of installation of functional features. At the Bayou Dupont marsh creation project in SE Louisiana, the NOAA Restoration Center partnered with the Northern Gulf Institute and Mississippi State University to collect high resolution imagery using unmanned aerial vehicles. The imagery and associated ground control points were used to create a digital surface model using structure from motion. Structure from motion (SfM) is a range imaging technique; it refers to the process of estimating three-dimensional structures from two-dimensional image sequences. This pilot project will help to evaluate the value of digital surface models created using structure from motion with data collected from unmanned aerial vehicles. Lessons learned will support advances in low-cost data acquisition and effective management of large-scale created wetland projects.