Mapping Seafloor Reflectance and Assessing Coral Reef Morphology with EAARL-B Topographic Lidar Waveforms

TitleMapping Seafloor Reflectance and Assessing Coral Reef Morphology with EAARL-B Topographic Lidar Waveforms
Publication TypeJournal Article
YearIn Press
AuthorsWilson, N, Parrish, CE, Battista, T, C. Wright, W, Costa, B, Slocum, R, Dijkstra, JA, Tyler, MT
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
PublisherSpringer
Keywordscoral reefs, habitat mapping, Seafloor Mapping

Topobathymetric lidar is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for benthic habitat mapping, enabling safe, efficient data acquisition over coral reefs and other fragile ecosystems. In 2014, a novel topobathymetric lidar system, the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL-B), was used to acquire data in priority habitat areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), spanning the 0-44 m depth range.  In this study, new algorithms and procedures were developed for generating seafloor relative reflectance, along with a suite of shape-based waveform features from EAARL-B. Waveform features were then correlated with percent cover of coral morphologies, domed and  branched, and total cover of hard and soft corals. Results show that the EAARL-B can be used to produce useful seafloor relative reflectance mosaics and also that the additional waveform shape-based features contain additional information that may benefit habitat classification—specifically, to aid in distinguishing among hard corals and their coral morphologies, domed and branched.  Knowing the spatial extent of changes in coral communities is important to the understanding of resiliency of coral reefs under stress from human impacts

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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