Landsat TM inventory and assessment of waterbird habitat in the southern altiplano of South America

Wetlands Ecology and Management
By: , and 



The diverse set of wetlands in southern altiplano of South America supports a number of endemic and migratory waterbirds. These species include endangered endemic flamingos and shorebirds that nest in North America and winter in the altiplano. This research developed maps from nine Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images (254,300 km2) to provide an inventory of aquatic waterbird habitats. Image processing software was used to produce a map with a classification of wetlands according to the habitat requirements of different types of waterbirds. A hierarchical procedure was used to, first, isolate the bodies of water within the TM image; second, execute an unsupervised classification on the subsetted image to produce 300 signatures of cover types, which were further subdivided as necessary. Third, each of the classifications was examined in the light of field data and personal experience for relevance to the determination of the various habitat types. Finally, the signatures were applied to the entire image and other adjacent images to yield a map depicting the location of the various waterbird habitats in the southern altiplano. The data sets referenced with a global positioning system receiver were used to test the classification system. Multivariate analysis of the bird communities censused at each lake by individual habitats indicated a salinity gradient, and then the depth of the water separated the birds. Multivariate analysis of the chemical and physical data from the lakes showed that the variation in lakes were significantly associated with difference in depth, transparency, latitude, elevation, and pH. The presence of gravel bottoms was also one of the qualities distinguishing a group of lakes. This information will be directly useful to the Flamingo Census Project and serve as an element for risk assessment for future development.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Landsat TM inventory and assessment of waterbird habitat in the southern altiplano of South America
Series title Wetlands Ecology and Management
DOI 10.1007/s11273-005-1761-2
Volume 12
Issue 6
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 563
Last page 573
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