The cover of living and dead corals from airborne remote sensing

Mumby, P. J., Hedley, J. D., Chisholm, J. R. M., Clark, C. D., Ripley, H. and Jaubert, J. (2004) The cover of living and dead corals from airborne remote sensing. Coral Reefs, 23 2: 171-183. doi:10.1007/s00338-004-0382-1

Author Mumby, P. J.
Hedley, J. D.
Chisholm, J. R. M.
Clark, C. D.
Ripley, H.
Jaubert, J.
Title The cover of living and dead corals from airborne remote sensing
Journal name Coral Reefs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0722-4028
Publication date 2004-07
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00338-004-0382-1
Volume 23
Issue 2
Start page 171
End page 183
Total pages 13
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Trends in coral cover are widely used to indicate the health of coral reefs but are costly to obtain from field survey over large areas. In situ studies of reflected spectra at the coral surface show that living and recently dead colonies can be distinguished. Here, we investigate whether such spectral differences can be detected using an airborne remote sensing instrument. The Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (Itres Research Ltd, Canada) was flown in two configurations: 10 spectral bands with 1-m2 pixels and 6 spectral bands with 0.25-m2 pixels. First, we show that an instrument with 10 spectral bands possesses adequate spectral resolution to distinguish living Porites, living Pocillopora spp., partially dead Porites, recently dead Porites (total colony mortality within 6 months), old dead (>6 months) Porites, Halimeda spp., and coralline red algae when there is no water column to confuse spectra. All substrata were distinguished using fourth-order spectral derivatives around 538 nm and 562 nm. Then, at a shallow site (Tivaru) at Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago (French Polynesia), we show that live and dead coral can be distinguished from the air to a depth of at least 4 m using first- and fourth-order spectral derivatives between 562–580 nm. However, partially dead and recently dead Porites colonies could not be distinguished from an airborne platform. Spectral differences among substrata are then exploited to predict the cover of reef substrata in ten 25-m2 plots at nearby Motu Nuhi (max depth 8 m). The actual cover in these plots was determined in situ using quadrats with a 0.01-m2 grid. Considerable disparity occurred between field and image-based measures of substrate cover within individual 25-m2 quadrats. At this small scale, disparity, measured as the absolute difference in cover between field and remote-sensing methods, reached 25% in some substrata but was always less than 10% for living coral (99% of which consisted of Porites spp.). At the scale of the reef (all ten 25-m2 quadrats), however, disparities in percent cover between imagery and field data were less than 10% for all substrata and extremely low for some classes (e.g. <3% for living Porites, recently dead Porites and Halimeda). The least accurately estimated substrata were sand and coralline red algae, which were overestimated by absolute values 7.9% and 6.6%, respectively. The precision of sampling was similar for field and remote-sensing methods: field methods required 19 plots to detect a 10% difference in coral cover among three reefs with a statistical power of 95%. Remote-sensing methods required 21 plots. However, it took 1 h to acquire imagery over 92,500 m2 of reef, which represents 3,700 plots of 25 m2 each, compared with 3 days to survey 10 such plots underwater. There were no significant differences in accuracy between 1-m2 and 0.25-m2 image resolutions, suggesting that the advantage of using smaller pixels is offset by reduced spectral information and an increase in noise (noise was observed to be 1.6–1.8 times greater in 0.25-m2 pixels). We show that airborne remote sensing can be used to monitor coral and algal cover over large areas, providing that water is shallow and clear, and that brown fleshy macroalgae are scarce, that depth is known independently (e.g. from sonar survey).
Keyword French Polynesia
Live and dead coral cover
Statistical power
Remote sensing
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 50 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 0 times in Scopus Article
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 23 Nov 2010, 14:40:25 EST