Wednesday, April 18 • 9:40am - 10:10am
Large Landscape Monitoring Using Drones, Landsat and Machine Learning

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Modern conservation efforts require coordination, planning, and monitoring across large landscapes. Under most ecosystem monitoring schemes, data is collected at a relatively small scale, but decisions need to be applied at the landscape scale. While remote sensing tools have greatly improved our ability to perform qualitative assessments at large scales, relatively few of these products provide actionable quantitative data for land managers and conservation planners.

Recent advances in machine learning algorithms, the advent of inexpensive drone technology, and readily accessible satellite data are together poised to revolutionize how we perform ecosystem monitoring. Here we discuss how these technologies can be combined to develop an effective monitoring framework at landscape scales. We use our work in grasslands of eastern Montana as a case study to show how we are scaling plot-level measurements (e.g. bare ground, plant volume, sage-brush cover) to pasture-scales using drones and to landscape-scales using time-series Landsat imagery. Our approach is designed to be nearly completely automated so that conservation staff do not need to spend their time classifying and modeling individual datasets.

In this presentation, we will discuss the tools that we use in our monitoring/modeling framework and share some of our successes and failures in applying machine learning techniques to imagery classification and regression modeling. We will also discuss tradeoffs between different photogrammetry processing tools, machine learning libraries, raster processing platforms, and point-cloud processing with LiDAR vs. SfM products. This talk will provide a high-level overview of our modeling framework and approach (50%) and a technical discussion of tools and data analysis (50%).


Scott Morford

Dr. Morford is an environmental data scientist living in Helena. He has 17 years of experience in GIS, remote sensing, and spatial modeling. He specializes in application of advanced statistical techniques to geospatial questions. His current interests revolve around applying machine... Read More →

Amy Pearson

Ms. Pearson is the GIS Analyst for The Nature Conservancy’s Montana Field Office – Amy has provided GIS services in the Helena office of The Nature Conservancy for 15 years. Amy manages and maintains conservation GIS databases and provides technical support to Conservancy staff... Read More →

Wednesday April 18, 2018 9:40am - 10:10am
Lewis Room