: Cliffs are reservoirs of biodiversity; therefore, many plant species and communities of inland and coastal cliffs are protected by Council Directive 92/43/EEC (European Economic Community), and their monitoring is mandatory in European Union countries. Surveying plants on coastal cliff by traditional methods is challenging and alternatives are needed. We tested the use of a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) as an alternative survey tool, gathering aerial images of cliffs at Palinuro Cape (Southern Italy). Four photo-interpreters analysed independently the derived orthomosaic and plotted data needed for the monitoring activity. Data showed to be not affected by photo-interpreters and reliable for the prescribed monitoring in the European Union (EU). Using the GIS analysis tools, we were able to: (a) recognise and map the plant species, (b) derive and measure the area of distribution on the cliff of habitat and species, and (c) count Eokochia saxicola individuals and gather quantitative data on their projected area. Quality of the images represented the main constraint, but incoming technological improvements of sensors and UAVs may overcome this problem. Overall results support the use of UAVs as an affordable and fast survey technique that can rapidly increase the number of studies on cliff habitats and improve ecological knowledge on their plant species and communities

Monitoring of Plant Species and Communities on Coastal Cliffs: Is the Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Suitable?

Sandro Strumia
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
2020

Abstract

: Cliffs are reservoirs of biodiversity; therefore, many plant species and communities of inland and coastal cliffs are protected by Council Directive 92/43/EEC (European Economic Community), and their monitoring is mandatory in European Union countries. Surveying plants on coastal cliff by traditional methods is challenging and alternatives are needed. We tested the use of a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) as an alternative survey tool, gathering aerial images of cliffs at Palinuro Cape (Southern Italy). Four photo-interpreters analysed independently the derived orthomosaic and plotted data needed for the monitoring activity. Data showed to be not affected by photo-interpreters and reliable for the prescribed monitoring in the European Union (EU). Using the GIS analysis tools, we were able to: (a) recognise and map the plant species, (b) derive and measure the area of distribution on the cliff of habitat and species, and (c) count Eokochia saxicola individuals and gather quantitative data on their projected area. Quality of the images represented the main constraint, but incoming technological improvements of sensors and UAVs may overcome this problem. Overall results support the use of UAVs as an affordable and fast survey technique that can rapidly increase the number of studies on cliff habitats and improve ecological knowledge on their plant species and communities
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11591/427769
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