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Remote characterization of photosynthetic communities in the Fryxell basin of Taylor Valley, Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2020

Mark R. Salvatore
Affiliation:
Department of Astronomy & Planetary Science, Northern Arizona University, NAU Box 6010, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Schuyler R. Borges
Affiliation:
Department of Astronomy & Planetary Science, Northern Arizona University, NAU Box 6010, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
John E. Barrett
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2125 Derring Hall, Mail Code 0406, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Eric R. Sokol
Affiliation:
National Ecological Observatory Network, Battelle Memorial Institute, 1685 38th Street, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
Lee F. Stanish
Affiliation:
National Ecological Observatory Network, Battelle Memorial Institute, 1685 38th Street, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
Sarah N. Power
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2125 Derring Hall, Mail Code 0406, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
Paul Morin
Affiliation:
Polar Geospatial Center, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, 1954 Buford Avenue, St Paul, MN 55108, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

We investigate the spatial distribution, spectral properties and temporal variability of primary producers (e.g. communities of microbial mats and mosses) throughout the Fryxell basin of Taylor Valley, Antarctica, using high-resolution multispectral remote-sensing data. Our results suggest that photosynthetic communities can be readily detected throughout the Fryxell basin based on their unique near-infrared spectral signatures. Observed intra- and inter-annual variability in spectral signatures are consistent with short-term variations in mat distribution, hydration and photosynthetic activity. Spectral unmixing is also implemented in order to estimate mat abundance, with the most densely vegetated regions observed from orbit correlating spatially with some of the most productive regions of the Fryxell basin. Our work establishes remote sensing as a valuable tool in the study of these ecological communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys and demonstrates how future scientific investigations and the management of specially protected areas could benefit from these tools and techniques.

Type
Biological Sciences
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2020

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Remote characterization of photosynthetic communities in the Fryxell basin of Taylor Valley, Antarctica
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