Vegetation patterns in a South American coastal wetland using high-resolution imagery

The aim of this study was to identify and characterize the main plant communities in a temperate coastal wetland using high-resolution imagery. We produced a map of Samborombón Bay at 1:25,000 scale using a WorldView-2 image. An Object-based Image Analysis approach was chosen, and an unsupervised classification algorithm was applied. Overall classification accuracy was 81%, and the Kappa index was 78.1%. Six land cover types were mapped including four main natural monospecific plant communities. The lower intertidal area was dominated by mudflats without vegetation and stands of Bolboschoenus maritimus. The middle intertidal area was dominated by Sarcocornia ambigua, while, in the higher intertidal area, Sporobolus densiflorus and grasslands with Cortaderia selloana prevailed. We found four spatial patterns at a landscape scale, based on the presence and spatial distribution of the natural plant communities. This map represents a valuable tool for future studies on wetland environmental indicators.