Remote estimation of aquatic light environments using machine learning: a new management tool for submerged aquatic vegetation

Pearson, Ryan M., Collier, Catherine J., Brown, Christopher J., Rasheed, Michael A., Bourner, Jessica, Turschwell, Mischa P., Sievers, Michael, and Connolly, Rod M. (2021) Remote estimation of aquatic light environments using machine learning: a new management tool for submerged aquatic vegetation. Science of the Total Environment, 782. 146886.

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Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV; e.g. seagrasses, macroalgae), forms key habitats in shallow coastal systems that provide a plethora of ecosystem services, including coastal protection, climate mitigation and supporting fisheries production. Light limitation is a critical factor influencing the growth and survival of SAV, thus it is important to understand how much light SAV needs, and receives, to effectively assess the risk that light limitation poses. Light monitoring is commonly used to inform environmental decision making to minimise loss of SAV habitat, but the temporal and spatial extent of monitoring is often limited by cost and logistical difficulties. An ability to remotely estimate light across different locations can therefore improve the conservation and management of SAV habitats. Here we combine an extensive monitoring program with publicly available data and machine learning to develop a model that estimates the light reaching submerged seagrasses in a shallow subtropical embayment in southern Queensland, Australia. Our model accurately predicts the intensity of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reaching the canopy of SAV from entirely remotely available data. The best performing model predicted light intensity with >99% at the management relevant daily, and 14-day rolling average time resolutions. This model enables monitoring of light available to SAV without an ongoing need for in-water instruments, minimising cost and risk to personnel, and improving assessment speed. The technique can be applied to SAV management plans in shallow waters throughout the world, where suitable remote public data is available.

Item ID: 68141
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-1026
Keywords: Seagrass; Light requirements; Irradiance; Impact management; Thresholds; Dredging; Zostera; SAV
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Copyright Information: © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Funders: Gold Coast Waterways Authority (GCWA), Global Wetlands Project
Projects and Grants: GCWA 22000-008
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2021 23:15
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 50%
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