Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 9, pp 1997–2013 | Cite as

Assessment of AHS (Airborne Hyperspectral Scanner) sensor to map macroalgal communities on the Ría de vigo and Ría de Aldán coast (NW Spain)

  • G. CasalEmail author
  • N. Sánchez-Carnero
  • J. A. Domínguez-Gómez
  • T. Kutser
  • J. Freire
Original Paper


Ría de Vigo and Ría de Aldán have high biological richness that is reflected in the number of environmental protection areas like the Atlantic Islands National Park and five places of community interest. Benthic algal communities play an important role in these ecosystems due to their ecological functions and support a great part of this biological richness. We tested by means of bio-optical modelling and Airborne Hyperspectral Scanner (AHS) images to what extent remote sensing could be used to map these communities in Ría de Vigo and Ría de Aldán (NW Spain). Reflectance spectra of dominating macroalgae groups were modelled for different water depths in order to estimate the separability of different bottom types based on their spectral signatures and the spectral characteristics of the AHS. Our results indicate that separation between three macroalgae groups (green, brown and red) as well as sand is possible when the bottoms are emerged during low tide. The spectra differences decrease rapidly with increasing water depth. Two types of classifications were carried out with the three AHS images: maximum likelihood and spectral angle mapper (SAM). Maximum likelihood showed positive results reaching overall accuracy percentages higher than 95 % and kappa coefficients higher than 0.90 for the bottom classes: shallow sand, deep sand, emerged rock, emerged macroalgae and submerged macroalgae. Sand and algae substrates were then separately analysed with SAM. These classifications showed positive results for differentiation between green and brown macroalgae until 5 m depth and high differences between all macroalgae and sandy substrate. However, differences between red and brown macroalgae are only detectable when the algae are emerged.


Macroalgae Benthic Habitat Subtidal Zone Spectral Angle Mapper Bottom Type 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the Spanish Government through the Spanish Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs (SARGAL PROJECT 030/SGTB/2007/1.4), the Galician government through the INCITE program (PROJECT 07MDS010CT) and by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This research was also partially support by a pre-doctoral grant of María Barbeito Program (Xunta de Galicia) and a research grant of Diputación de A Coruña. The authors would like to thank CETMAR (Centro Tecnolóxico do Mar) for its help with field work and INTA for its support in the flight campaign and AHS images pre-processing. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Casal
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. Sánchez-Carnero
    • 1
  • J. A. Domínguez-Gómez
    • 2
  • T. Kutser
    • 3
  • J. Freire
    • 1
  1. 1.Grupo de Recursos Marinos y Pesquerías, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Estudios Hidrográficos (CEDEX)MadridSpain
  3. 3.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTallinnEstonia

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