Sturgeon habitat quantified by side-scan sonar imagery
Hook, John David
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The assessment and monitoring of freshwater habitats is essential to the successful management of imperiled fishes. Recent introduction of recreational multi-beam and side-scan sonar equipment allows rapid, low cost acquisition of bathymetric data and substrate imagery in navigable waters. However, utilization of this data is hindered by a lack of established protocols for processing and classification. I surveyed 298 km of the Ogeechee River, Georgia using low-cost recreational-grade side-scan and bathymetric sonar. I assessed classification accuracy of three approaches to working with recreational-grade sonar and quantified potential spawning grounds for Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus). I demonstrate that ecologically relevant habitat variables can be derived from low-cost sonar imagery at low levels of processing effort.