The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR) is currently conducting habitat mapping analysis as part of the NERRS Habitat Mapping and Change module of the System-wide Monitoring Program. Habitat mapping in the NCNERR focuses on understanding the relationships between land use and habitat changes, anthropogenic influences on Reserves from upland watersheds, and environmental stressors related to climate change.

Habitat mapping occurs at the four national Reserve sites in North Carolina: Currituck Banks, Rachel Carson, Masonboro Island, and Zeke's Island. NCNERR conducts its habitat mapping research in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures established by NERRS stewardship and research experts, which helps facilitate consistent analysis of habitat change within and among the national system of Reserves.

Currently, the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management and NCNERR have completed the manual digitization process to classify habitat based on aerial images. In June 2013, Rachel Carson and Masonboro Reserve staff were responsible for ground-truthing the digital maps by verifying randomly selected GPS points on the ground or through additional aerial imagery. Ground-truthing is used to compare the initial habitat classifications with habitat types actually found on the ground and update the habitat maps accordingly. 

Ultimately, habitat mapping and land use change data will help communicate both short-term variability and long-term changes at NCNERR sites to help inform coastal management and stewardship objectives at the Reserves. 

2013 and 2006 habitat maps are available for Currituck Banks, Rachel Carson, Masonboro Island, Zeke's Island Reserves. You can also view habitat layers for the NCNERR sites on the site page maps by selecting "Habitat Maps" in the menu.