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Coastal wetlands contribute greatly to our coasts economically and ecologically. The utility of coastal wetland vegetation, along with the multitude of dynamic forces they encounter, suggests the need of regular monitoring for sustainable management. While traditional in situ survey methods and remote sensing from space and manned platforms have provided means to monitor and study the coastal zone thus far, the recent developments of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) fill a small void between traditional in situ survey methods and the high spatial resolution of manned aircraft imagery. As an on-demand personal remote sensing device, an sUAS can be deployed over coastal regions at a low cost and with very fine spatial resolution (i.e. 1-10 cm) imagery and corresponding spatial accuracy. Though an sUAS provides many benefits, recent literature documents several shortcomings and limitations to using them for coastal wetland vegetation research, including changing tides, lighting conditions and legal restrictions on flying. This study reviewed all coastal wetland vegetation-related studies that included an sUAS as a mapping tool to document the current state of the field. Current practices, successes, and limitations are described, and future directions for the field are discussed. Coastal managers and researchers alike will be able use this comprehensive review to determine how to best approach future studies of diverse coastal vegetation.

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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group, on behalf of Nanjing Normal University. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

APA Citation

R. Morgan, G., Hodgson, M. E., Wang, C., & R. Schill, S. (2022). Unmanned aerial remote sensing of coastal vegetation: A Review. Annals of GIS, 28(3), 385–399.

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