Estimation of juvenile salmon habitat in pacific rim rivers using multiscalar remote sensing and geospatial analysis

D. C. Whited, J. S. Kimball, M. S. Lorang, J. A. Stanford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We conducted a regional classification and analysis of riverine floodplain physical features that represent key attributes of salmon rearing habitats. Riverine habitat classifications, including floodplain area and river channel complexity, were derived at moderate (30m) spatial resolution using multispectral Landsat imagery and global terrain data (90m) encompassing over 3400000km2 and most North Pacific Rim (NPR) salmon rivers. Similar classifications were derived using finer scale (i.e. ≤ 2.4-m resolution) remote sensing data over a smaller set of 31 regionally representative flood plains. A suite of physical habitat metrics (e.g. channel sinuosity, nodes, floodplain width) were derived from each dataset and used to assess the congruence between similar habitat features at the different spatial scales and to evaluate the utility of moderate scale geospatial data for determining abundance of selected juvenile salmon habitats relative to fine scale remote sensing measurements. The resulting habitat metrics corresponded favorably (p<0.0001) between the moderate scale and the fine scale floodplain classifications; a subset of these metrics (channel nodes and maximum floodplain width) also were strong indicators (R2>0.5, p<0.0001) of floodplain habitats defined from the finer scale analysis. These relationships were used to estimate the abundance and distribution of three critical shallow water floodplain habitats for juvenile salmon (parafluvial and orthofluvial springs, and shallow shore) across the entire NPR domain. The resulting database provides a potential tool to evaluate and prioritize salmon conservation efforts both within individual river systems and across major catchments on the basis of physical habitat distribution and abundance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalRiver Research and Applications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Floodplain
  • Juvenile salmon
  • Landsat
  • Quickbird
  • Remote sensing
  • River habitat


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