UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The characterization of stream and riparian features of importance for fish habitat using laser scanning Dakin Kuiper, Spencer


Understanding changes in salmonid populations and their habitat is a critical issue given changing climate, their importance as a keystone species, and their cultural significance. Further, there is an increasing need to provide up to date, accurate, and spatially explicit information to forest managers to make informed decisions within a sustainable forest management context. The increasing availability of Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) data for forest applications offers an opportunity to utilize these data for assessing the quality and quantity of habitat, which is often costly and difficult to characterize at broad scales. ALS data provides detailed and accurate Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) under forest canopies, which in turn enable the characterization of detailed stream networks, as well as stream and terrain attributes important to salmonids. The primary objective of this thesis is to examine the potential of ALS to characterize stream habitat features important for salmonids. To accomplish this a systematic review examining how remote sensing technologies have been used to characterize stream habitat features was completed. Next, workflows and models were developed to extract stream width and individual morphological features classified as pools, riffles, runs, and cascades using ALS data. Additionally, the ability of ALS to extract instream wood features was assessed, examining which ALS and environment attributes influenced the detection rate. Lastly, a broader perspective was used and a framework was developed to integrate ALS derived indicators of watershed condition and pressure into existing watershed status evaluation procedures. Ultimately, the research presented in this thesis describes a series of value-added approaches to better understand how ALS data can be used to characterize stream and riparian vegetation features important to salmonids in a forested environment.

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