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Long-term monitoring of wetlands along the Western-Greek Bird Migration Route using Landsat and ASTER satellite images: Amvrakikos Gulf (Greece)
Bortels, L.; Chan, J. C.--W.; Merken, R.; Koedam, N. (2011). Long-term monitoring of wetlands along the Western-Greek Bird Migration Route using Landsat and ASTER satellite images: Amvrakikos Gulf (Greece). J. Nat. Conserv. 19(4): 215-223.
In: Journal for Nature Conservation. Elsevier: Jena. ISSN 1617-1381; e-ISSN 1618-1093, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Landsat; ASTER; Coastal wetlands; Change detection; Fragmentation;Stopover habitat; Long-distance migratory waterbirds

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    The west coast of Greece is an important migration route for migratory waterbirds. The wetlands along this coast are important stopover sites during bird migration between wintering and breeding sites. The use of remote sensing methods for mapping bird migration habitats and for temporal monitoring of changes in these habitats was investigated. The Amvrakikos Gulf, a coastal wetland complex along the west coast of Greece, was selected as the study area. Landsat TM and ETM+images and ASTER VNIR images were used to perform a post-classification change detection over a time period of 15 years (1989-2004). In order to assess the spatial quality of existing wetland patches, spatial metrics (such as patch area, distance between the patches, and proximity) were calculated. To study changes in the degree of fragmentation of the stopover area, a binary patch structure was used in which the focal patches were embedded in a neutral matrix. The results showed that Landsat and ASTER VNIR satellite images can be used to trace small wetlands of approximately 0.5 ha minimum. These data sources are suitable for monitoring changes in wetlands, in particular marshes and mudflats, which are important habitats for migratory waterbirds. In the 15-year period that has been studied there was an estimated 32% decrease in marsh and mudflat area. Among this decrease, 25% went to water surface and 7% to vegetation in the months of August and September. Within the same period of time, a higher degree of fragmentation of the potential bird migration habitat has also been recorded. For this purpose, the remote sensing approach used in this study where change detection is performed on freely available Landsat and ASTER satellite images could be an interesting tool for policy makers and managers, as they allow easy recognition and monitoring of changes in wetlands and therefore contribute to an evaluation of the efficiency of protection and management schemes applied by countries for their wetlands.

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