Coral Reefs

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 164–171

Spectral discrimination of coral reef benthic communities

  • E. J. Hochberg
  • M. J. Atkinson

DOI: 10.1007/s003380000087

Cite this article as:
Hochberg, E. & Atkinson, M. Coral Reefs (2000) 19: 164. doi:10.1007/s003380000087


Effective identification and mapping of coral reef benthic communities using high-spatial and -spectral resolution digital imaging spectrometry requires that the different communities are distinguishable by their spectral reflectance characteristics. In Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, USA, we collected in situ a total of 247 spectral reflectances of three coral species (Montipora capitata, Porites compressa, Porites lobata), five algal species (Dictyosphaeria cavernosa, Gracilaria salicornia, Halimeda sp., Porolithon sp., Sargassum echinocarpum) and three sand benthic communities (fine-grained carbonate sand, sand mixed with coral rubble, coral rubble). Major reflectance features were identified by peaks in fourth derivative reflectance spectra of coral (at 573, 604, 652, 675 nm), algae (at 556, 601, 649 nm) and sand (at 416, 448, 585, 652, 696 nm). Stepwise wavelength selection and linear discriminant function analysis revealed that spectral separation of the communities is possible with as few as four non-contiguous wavebands. These linear discriminant functions were applied to an airborne hyperspectral image of a patch reef in Kaneohe Bay. The results demonstrate the ability of spectral reflectance characteristics, determined in situ, to discriminate the three basic benthic community types: coral, algae and sand.

Key words CoralAlgaeSandReflectanceRemote sensing

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. J. Hochberg
    • 1
  • M. J. Atkinson
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Hawaii, Department of Oceanography, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA e-mail: Tel.: +1-808-9562442; Fax: +1-808-9567112US
  2. 2.University of Hawaii, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, P.O. Box 1346, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USAUS