Multi- and hyperspectral classification of soft-bottom intertidal vegetation using a spectral library for coastal biodiversity remote sensing.

Bede F. R. Davies, Pierre Gernez, Andréa Geraud, Simon Oiry, Philippe Rosa, Maria Laura Zoffoli & Laurent Barillé

Remote Sensing
Spectral Library
Machine Learning
First Author

Bede F. R. Davies; Pierre Gernez; Andréa Geraud; Simon Oiry; Philippe Rosa; Maria Laura Zoffoli; Laurent Barillé


March 24, 2023

Davies et al., 2023


Monitoring biodiversity and how anthropogenic pressures impact this is critical, especially as anthropogenically driven climate change continues to affect all ecosystems. Intertidal areas are exposed to particularly high levels of pressures owing to increased population density in coastal areas. Traditional methods of monitoring intertidal areas do not provide datasets with full coverage in a cost-effective or timely manner, and so the use of remote sensing to monitor these areas is becoming more common. Monitoring of ecologically important monospecific habitats, such as seagrass beds, using remote sensing techniques is well documented. However, the ability for multispectral data to distinguish efficiently and accurately between classes of vegetation with similar pigment composition, such as seagrass and green algae, has proved difficult, often requiring hyperspectral data. A machine learning approach was used to differentiate between soft-bottom intertidal vegetation classes when exposed at low tide, comparing 6 different multi- and hyperspectral remote and in situ sensors. For the library of 366 spectra, collected across Northern Europe, high accuracy (>80%) was found across all spectral resolutions. While a higher spectral resolution resulted in higher accuracy, there was no discernible increase in accuracy above 10 spectral bands (95%: Sentinel-2 MSI sensor with a spatial resolution of 20 m). This work highlights the ability of multispectral sensors to discriminate intertidal vegetation types, while also showing the most important wavelengths for this discrimination (∼530 and ∼ 730 nm), giving recommendations for spectral ranges of future satellite missions. The ability for multispectral sensors to aid in accurate and rapid intertidal vegetation classification at the taxonomic resolution of classes, could be a significant contribution for future sustainable and effective ecosystem management.