Automatic image annotation applied to habitat classification

Torres Torres, Mercedes (2015) Automatic image annotation applied to habitat classification. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Habitat classification, the process of mapping a site with its habitats, is a crucial activity for monitoring environmental biodiversity. Phase 1 classification, a 10-class four-tier hierarchical scheme, is the most widely used scheme in the UK. Currently, no automatic approaches have been developed and its classification is carried out exclusively by ecologists. This manual approach using surveyors is laborious, expensive and subjective. To this date, no automatic approach has been developed.

This thesis presents the first automatic system for Phase 1 classification. Our main contribution is an Automatic Image Annotation (AIA) framework for the automatic classification of Phase 1 habitats. This framework combines five elements to annotate unseen photographs: ground-taken geo-referenced photography, low-level visual features, medium-level semantic information, random projections forests and location-based weighted predictions.

Our second contribution are two fully-annotated ground-taken photograph datasets, the first publicly available databases specifically designed for the development of multimedia analysis techniques for ecological applications. Habitat 1K has over 1,000 photographs and 4,000 annotated habitats and Habitat 3K has over 3,000 images and 11,000 annotated habitats. This is the first time ground-taken photographs have been used with such ecological purposes.

Our third contribution is a novel Random Forest-based classifier: Random Projection Forests (RPF). RPFs use Random Projections as a dimensionality reduction mechanism in their split nodes. This new design makes their training and testing phase more efficient than those of the traditional implementation of Random Forests.

Our fourth contribution arises from the limitations that low-level features have when classifying similarly visual classes. Low-level features have been proven to be inadequate for discriminating high-level semantic concepts, such as habitat classes. Currently, only humans posses such high-level knowledge. In order to obtain this knowledge, we create a new type of feature, called medium-level features, which use a Human-In-The-Loop approach to extract crucial semantic information.

Our final contribution is a location-based voting system for RPFs. We benefit from the geographical properties of habitats to weight the predictions from the RPFs according to the geographical distance between unseen test photographs and photographs in the training set.

Results will show that ground-taken photographs are a promising source of information that can be successfully applied to Phase 1 classification. Experiments will demonstrate that our AIA approach outperforms traditional Random Forests in terms of recall and precision. Moreover, both our modifications, the inclusion of medium-level knowledge and a location-based voting system, greatly improve the recall and precision of even the most complex habitats. This makes our complete image-annotation system, to the best of our knowledge, the most accurate automatic alternative to manual habitat classification for the complete categorization of Phase 1 habitats.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Qiu, G.
Priestnall, G.
Jackson, M.J.
Keywords: Habitat classification, image annotation, image classification, machine learning, random forests, image database
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) > TA1501 Applied optics. Phonics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 28419
Depositing User: Torres, Mercedes
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2015 10:25
Last Modified: 11 May 2016 16:50

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