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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Geographic Information Science

Administrative Home Department

College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Ann L. Maclean

Advisor 2

Curtis B. Edson

Committee Member 1

Yvette Dickinson


Wetlands are a major ecologically important natural resource. The Great Lakes have the longest fresh-water shoreline in the world, and many miles of unique coastal wetlands. Delineation and classification of coastal wetlands vegetation is a critical component to their preservation and management. Of particular interest to this study is Phragmites, a common reed growing in coastal fens, sedge meadows, and emergent marshes. One subspecies (P. americanus) is native and intermixes with other native plants to provide habitat for a wide array of wildlife. A second subspecies (P. australis) is invasive and forms dense monocultures. These dense monocultures outcompete native plants, reduce vegetation diversity, and eliminate critical habitat for threatened and endangered flora and fauna.

To protect and manage native wetlands, accurate delineation and mapping of Phragmites locations, and distinguishing P. australis from P. americanus is needed. Historically, mapping Phragmites used GPS combined with aerial and/or satellite imagery. However, these methods proved expensive, time consuming, and limiting in terms of spatial resolution and extent/frequency of coverage. Our study is exploring the potential use of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to acquire near-infrared imagery with centimeter scale spatial resolution to map coastal wetland vegetation in general and Phragmites locations and extent specifically. The images (~ 40,000 images) were collected the summer of 2017 over three areas of the Hiawatha National Forest along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.