Management and regulatory standards for stream shading have been established to mitigate excessive stream temperature. Existing shade assessment tools, however, are inadequate for monitoring extensive stream networks. Our objectives were to develop and evaluate an efficient, low-cost field technique for sampling stream-surface shading using digital images and to evaluate the efficiencies and effectiveness of eight different digital image analysis techniques for shade assessments. We developed a quadrat-based technique and associated field equipment to directly photograph stream-surface shading. Sampling at random points (pixels) within the resultant digital images was the most accurate, efficient, and robust image analysis technique. An approach pairing the photographic field technique and the random point-sampling image analysis technique should enable managers to conduct ground-based assessments of stream shading over extensive stream networks. This approach may also provide an efficient means of collecting ground truth samples for even broader scale, remote sensing–based stream-shade assessments.
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Vol. 61 • No. 3