Assessing the potential of remotely-sensed drone spectroscopy to determine live coral cover on Heron Reef

Cornet, Valerie J., and Joyce, Karen E. (2021) Assessing the potential of remotely-sensed drone spectroscopy to determine live coral cover on Heron Reef. Drones, 5 (2). 29.

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Coral reefs, as biologically diverse ecosystems, hold significant ecological and economic value. With increased threats imposed on them, it is increasingly important to monitor reef health by developing accessible methods to quantify coral cover. Discriminating between substrate types has previously been achieved with in situ spectroscopy but has not been tested using drones. In this study, we test the ability of using point-based drone spectroscopy to determine substrate cover through spectral unmixing on a portion of Heron Reef, Australia. A spectral mixture analysis was conducted to separate the components contributing to spectral signatures obtained across the reef. The pure spectra used to unmix measured data include live coral, algae, sand, and rock, obtained from a public spectral library. These were able to account for over 82% of the spectral mixing captured in each spectroscopy measurement, highlighting the benefits of using a public database. The unmixing results were then compared to a categorical classification on an overlapping mosaicked drone image but yielded inconclusive results due to challenges in co-registration. This study uniquely showcases the potential of using commercial-grade drones and point spectroscopy in mapping complex environments. This can pave the way for future research, by increasing access to repeatable, effective, and affordable technology.

Item ID: 69813
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2504-446X
Keywords: remote sensing; coral reefs; drones; linear unmixing; R; Google Earth Engine
Copyright Information: Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Funders: James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2021 00:43
FoR Codes: 40 ENGINEERING > 4013 Geomatic engineering > 401304 Photogrammetry and remote sensing @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 100%
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