METHODS 

Historical Aerial Data refers to aerial photographs (often collected in black and white) depicting the landscape prior to the availability of satellite imagery. To fully understand the historical changes in a habitat, our team looks at photographs going back as far as the 1940s found in archives.

Satellite Image Classification refers to the assignment of thematic classes representing land cover types of interest (such as forest, water or grassland)  to each pixel.  Optical satellite imagery must be preprocessed with an atmospheric correction to be a measure of the reflected sunlight from the surface of the Earth.  Starting in the 1970s,  satellites began capturing imagery of the surface of the Earth. By comparing images collected through time our team assesses the change in key land cover classes such as forest decline, agricultural expansion and desertification. 

UAV Imagery refers to very high spatial resolution images or videos collected from low altitude unmanned platforms.  These data allow our team to precisely map habitat extents and use various kinds of sensors (e.g. hyperspectral, thermal, photographic) to discern habitat characteristics. A better understanding of how and why the forest cover around an aquatic habitat has changed allows us to infer why certain species are under threat.

Ground Truth Data is comprised of GPS locations of key habitat characteristics, species locations and visual definitions of ground cover. These data alsoserve to validate the analyses performed on the aerial datasets. 

Underwater Photography helps to better understand the actual conditions of a habitat, and determine if agricultural runoff, mining, loss in forest cover and the introduction of foreign species have had an impact on a location. 

Collection of Specimens / DNA Where possible our team will collect specimens and DNA samples. All specimens are donated to ichthyology collections in Canada and abroad. Among the institutions used are the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum), FISHBOL (University of Guelph), AMNH (American Museum of Natural History), McGill Biology, and the Bavarian State Collection in Munich, Germany.  


GLOSSARY

Black water/ white water are definitions to assess the conditions of a river or lake. Black water rivers are clear but stained by tannins and appear dark brown in colour, while white water rivers carry silt and appear muddy and beige in colour, with little or no visibility. The third classification is clear water, lacking both the silt of the white water and tannins of the black water.

Ecological niche is the role and position a species has in its environment such as how it meets its needs for food and shelter, how it survives, and how it reproduces. A species' niche includes all of its interactions with the biotic and abiotic factors of its environment.

Endemism is the state of a species being unique to a geographic location or habitat type. Indigenous organisms are not endemic if they are found in multiple locations or habitats.

Hypersaline lakes are landlocked water bodies that contain high concentrations of salts at levels surpassing ocean water.

Hyperspectral imaging refers to data collected with specialized sensors that record up to hundreds of narrow wavelengths of light simultaneously.  Traditional photography generally has three layers (RGB), while hyperspectral imaging ranges from approximately 30 to over 100 layers.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data List), created in 1964, is a comprehensive inventory of the conservation status species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world's main authority on the conservation status of species.

Remote sensing is the study of the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with the surface of the Earth to infer physical or chemical characteristics. In Earth Observation terms it often refers to the use of satellite imagery or aerial imagery to study the surface of the Earth.

Rheophile species have evolved adapted to life in fast moving water. For fishes this often means a more extreme body shape or special adaptations to hold onto the substrate with their fins or mouth. 

UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), also referred to as a drone or a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. Its flight is controlled either by onboard computers or by a pilot on the ground.


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