- Accurate and repeatable measurements are vital for the assessment of long-term trends in ecosystem structure or function (as demonstrated by many of the studies in the special issue). However, some well-established monitoring techniques can be time consuming and therefore expensive, and may also be prone to subjective variations arising, for example, from recorder bias.
- There is an increasing expectation for long-term environmental monitoring programmes to become more efficient and thus less demanding on resources.
- Recent technological developments provide a variety of opportunities to make measurements at lower cost, and in some cases to higher levels of accuracy and provision.
- Digital imagery is one such example technology, and here, several digital image techniques for recording vegetation cover at the plant functional type level were tested at ECN Moor House.
- Whilst not, in this case, a replacement for the current ECN vegetation monitoring protocol, this approach presents the potential to rapidly and accurately assess plant functional type cover during spatial surveys and over time at fixed locations.
- ECN sites should not only be able to benefit from such technologies in the longer term, but in the meantime they also provide excellent research platforms at which new approaches can be tested alongside more conventional measurements.
Reference: Baxendale, CL., Ostle, NJ. and et al. (2016). Can digital image classification be used as a standardised method for surveying peatland vegetation cover? Ecological Indicators, 68, 150-156. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.11.035.