Cost-Effective Indicators of Great Lakes Wetland Health

Major Goals and Objectives

Wetlands provide ecosystem services critical to the well-being of human populations, yet they have undergone massive loss and degradation. Illinois and Indiana alone have lost 85-90% of their historical wetland extent, which could impact the region’s resilience to climatic events and stressors. In response, agencies are dedicating substantial resources to restoring wetlands and their ecological functions. However, maintaining high quality, resilient habitats in human-dominated landscapes is challenging. Current literature reports a wide range of response to restoration interventions. Gathering long-term, consistent data on restored and protected wetlands is key to advancing our understanding of the root causes of this variability. This project will identify remote sensing-based indicators of vegetation composition and ecological functions to facilitate the consistent and large-scale monitoring of Lake Michigan wetlands. As a result, the project will generate three outputs aligned with the strategic goals of the IISG: (1) a literature review, to be published in a peer-review journal, summarizing current knowledge on the relationships between remote sensing-based indicators and transformations in plant communities; (2) a detailed script and tutorial, to be made available to scholars and stakeholders, showing users how to derive indicators of wetland health and recovery from free remote sensing datasets; and (3) a case study in a subsample of wetlands to serve as a proof of concept for the larger proposal.   

Accomplishments / Benefits


Publication: Leveraging time series of satellite and aerial images to promote the long-term monitoring of restored plant communities

Research Information

Principal Investigator:
Sophie Taddeo
Initiation Date:
Completion Date:
Chicago Botanic Garden; Northwestern University


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