Document Detail

Biological and remote sensing perspectives of pigmentation in coral reef organisms.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12154614     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Coral reef communities face unprecedented pressures on local, regional and global scales as a consequence of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance. Optical remote sensing, from satellites or aircraft, is possibly the only means of measuring the effects of such stresses at appropriately large spatial scales (many thousands of square kilometres). To map key variables such as coral community structure, percentages of living coral or percentages of dead coral, a remote sensing instrument must be able to distinguish the reflectance spectra (i.e. "spectral signature", reflected light as a function of wavelength) of each category. For biotic classes, reflectance is a complex function of pigmentation, structure and morphology. Studies of coral "colour" fall into two disparate but potentially complementary types. Firstly, biological studies tend to investigate the structure and significance of pigmentation in reef organisms. These studies often lack details that would be useful from a remote sensing perspective such as intraspecific variation in pigment concentration or the contribution of fluorescence to reflectance. Secondly, remote sensing studies take empirical measurements of spectra and seek wavelengths that discriminate benthic categories. Benthic categories used in remote sensing sometimes consist of species groupings that are biologically or spectrally inappropriate (e.g. merging of algal phyla with distinct pigments). Here, we attempt to bridge the gap between biological and remote sensing perspectives of pigmentation in reef taxa. The aim is to assess the extent to which spectral discrimination can be given a biological foundation, to reduce the ad hoc nature of discriminatory criteria, and to understand the fundamental (biological) limitations in the spectral separability of biotic classes. Sources of pigmentation in reef biota are reviewed together with remote sensing studies where spectral discrimination has been effectively demonstrated between benthic categories. The basis of reflectance is considered as the sum of pigmented components, such as zooxanthellae, host tissues and skeletons of corals. Problems in the empirical in situ measurement of reflectance are identified, such as the differing types of reflectance which can be measured, the interaction of the light field with morphology, and depth-dependent variability of measured reflectance due to fluorescence. The latter is estimated in some cases to introduce an error of up to 20% when depth differs by 8 m. Spectral features useful in discriminating reef benthos are identified and related to pigmentation. The slope in the reflectance spectra between 650 and 690 nm is dependent on chlorophyll-a concentration and can be used to discriminate bare sand with no algal component from chlorophyll-a containing benthos (algae, corals). The slope in reflectance at various locations between 500 and 560 nm can be useful in discriminating bleached and unbleached corals, possibly due to reduced peridinin concentration. Rhodophyta may be discernible by the presence of a dip in reflectance at 570 nm, due to a phycoerythrin absorption peak. However, the utility of some discriminatory criteria in deeper waters is mitigated by the relatively poor transmission of light through water at longer wavelengths (especially > 600 nm). Contrary to suggested categorizations of fluorescent pigments in coral host tissues, it is shown that these pigments form an almost continuous distribution with respect to their excitation and emission peaks. Remote sensing by induced fluorescence is a promising approach, but further details about the variation and distribution of these pigments are required. It is hoped that this review will promote cross-disciplinary collaboration between pigment biologists and the reef remote sensing community. Where possible, the discriminative criteria adopted in remote sensing should be related to biological phenomena, thus lending an intuitive, process-orientated basis for interpreting spectral data. Similarly, remote sensing may provide a novel scaling perspective to biological studies of pigmentation in reef organisms.
John D Hedley; Peter J Mumby
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Advances in marine biology     Volume:  43     ISSN:  0065-2881     ISO Abbreviation:  Adv. Mar. Biol.     Publication Date:  2002  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-08-05     Completed Date:  2002-11-14     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0370431     Medline TA:  Adv Mar Biol     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  277-317     Citation Subset:  IM    
Tropical Coastal Management Studies, Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, Ridley Building, University of Newcastle, NE1 7RU, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Environmental Monitoring / instrumentation,  methods*
Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
Oceans and Seas
Pigmentation* / physiology
Pigments, Biological*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Pigments, Biological; 1406-65-1/Chlorophyll

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