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Hyperspectral imaging for Biodiversity Assessment of Coastal and Terrestrial Ecosystems


University of Puerto Rico, San Juan/NASA Science Mission Directorate

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then NASA’s remote-sensing cameras can speak volumes about the biodiversity of a particular plot of land or seashore. A good, quick reference guide, a “dictionary” if you will, can help scientists and researchers “translate” those pictures into words. Essentially, that’s what this EPSCoRfunded project at the University of Puerto Rico was designed to do: establish algorithms that correlate the colors and densities that remotesensing space- and aircraft photograph from above with the variety and species types transmitting those signals from the ground or coastal waters below. Such a protocol applicable across different ecosystems can save researchers time, money and effort they’d

otherwise need to validate each of any number of specific suppositions and analyses. This research project focused on designing algorithms which combine multi-temporal and multi-scale NASA satellite (Hyperion), NASA airborne (NASA Glenn Research Center’s Compact Hyperspectral Imager and AISA sensor), and other available imagery (hyperspectral and multispectral) with in situ measurements to characterize the distribution, abundance, and phenology of biodiversity in two environments - the Guánica Dry Forest and La Parguera Reefs in Puerto Rico (PR). The data collection served as both the science driver to determine what is useful to be estimated by remote sensing, and also as “ground truth” for algorithm development.

Specific achievements included the identification of specific, high-value spectral indicators of biodiversity and conservation, forest condition, reef condition, and functional diversity for a range of Neotropical habitats from coastal marine to upland forest ecosystems. Collaborators joining UPR and NASA Glenn were NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the PR Department of Natural Resource, the U.S. Forest Service’s International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and the University of Virginia. From this EPSCoR-funded research came a UPR graduate biology course, and numerous undergraduate courses incorporated the newlydeveloped data methodologies. Also established was a student internship at NASA Goddard.

True color composite of 2013 hyperspectral flight lines for Guánica Forest.

Dr. Shawn D. Hunt, Science PI, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Dr. Liane Guild, NASA Technical Monitor, Ames Research Center

Housing and light source for GER-1500 field spectrometer used to baseline signals from a comprehensive sampling of species amongst the inner shelf reefs of southwestern Puerto Rico, predominantly on Enrique Reef.

NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15



EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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