Hydro Acoustic Mapping Streamlines Aquatic Plant Survey Work

Aquatechnex biologists have for years been at the forefront in implementing mapping technologies to support invasive aquatic plant management programs.  In the past year two advances in hydro-acoustic environmental survey systems have found their way into our tool box.

Hydro-Acoustic Map of Aquatic Plant Bio-volume shows locations of weed beds for further investigation

Hydro-Acoustic Map of Aquatic Plant Bio-volume shows locations of weed beds for further investigation

In 2012, our team adopted the BioSonics MX Aquatic Habitat Scientific Echosounding System and Software.  This technology allows us to very accurately map the shape and boundaries of aquatic plant communites with incredible accuracy.  This data has been extremely useful in documenting aquatic plant biovolume change in before and after treatments.  It can be used to show exact change along transect lines across treatment beds.

This year we have added a second hydro-acoutic tool to our box.  We have subscribed to a cloud based processing system that automatically converts hydro-acoustic data we collect to high definition aquatic plant maps.  The image shown here is of a 900 acre lake that has had a historic infestation of Eurasian Milfoil.  in 2011, our team implemented a treatment program using Renovate OTF Aquatic Herbicide to selectively target this invasive aquatic weed.  This treatment was highly successful and in 2012 no additional control work was necessary.  The littoral area of this lake was surveyed in about 6 hours of operations on the water.  This data was uploaded and processed, and within a hour we had this map showing the shapes and boundaries of all significant aquatic plant communities in the lake.  These were then targeted for additional survey to document species present.

This technology is extremely useful in rapidly assessing new lakes we haven’t worked on before.  Within a few hours we can have an excellent understanding of the aquatic plant communities present in the system.  These maps can then be used to focus the energy of the team on known colonies of vegetation and rapidly build pre treatment maps of plants present.  We recently completed a mapping mission where our $1,700 bid was weighted against a diver survey that was quoted at $28,000.  Our program had treatment maps build in less than a day, this competitive technology was quoted as taking a few weeks.  On another project on Flathead Lake, Montana, we are to build pre treatment maps and document removal of invasive species after a contracted diver dredging operation takes place in these locations.  We will run the same transects and collect pre and post treatment aquatic plant biovolume and this will show the exact change that results from this work.  It will also help define areas that may have been missed or need additional attention.

This can also be used passively during applications to map vegetation as treatments are being made generating a pre treatment map that can be compared to post treatment data collection to document results.  As we use this technology more, we are discovering ways to do better work for our clients.

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