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Open AccessArticle

Estimating Net Photosynthesis of Biological Soil Crusts in the Atacama Using Hyperspectral Remote Sensing

1
Faculty of Geography, Philipps-University of Marburg, Deutschhausstraße 10, 35037 Marburg, Germany
2
Plant Ecology and Systematics, University of Kaiserslautern, Erwin-Schrödinger-Straße 13, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(6), 891; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10060891
Received: 9 April 2018 / Revised: 30 May 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
Biological soil crusts (BSC) encompassing green algae, cyanobacteria, lichens, bryophytes, heterotrophic bacteria and microfungi are keystone species in arid environments because of their role in nitrogen- and carbon-fixation, weathering and soil stabilization, all depending on the photosynthesis of the BSC. Despite their importance, little is known about the BSCs of the Atacama Desert, although especially crustose chlorolichens account for a large proportion of biomass in the arid coastal zone, where photosynthesis is mainly limited due to low water availability. Here, we present the first hyperspectral reflectance data for the most wide-spread BSC species of the southern Atacama Desert. Combining laboratory and field measurements, we establish transfer functions that allow us to estimate net photosynthesis rates for the most common BSC species. We found that spectral differences among species are high, and differences between the background soil and the BSC at inactive stages are low. Additionally, we found that the water absorption feature at 1420 nm is a more robust indicator for photosynthetic activity than the chlorophyll absorption bands. Therefore, we conclude that common vegetation indices must be taken with care to analyze the photosynthesis of BSC with multispectral data. View Full-Text
Keywords: biological soil crusts; Atacama Desert; photosynthesis; hyperspectral remote sensing biological soil crusts; Atacama Desert; photosynthesis; hyperspectral remote sensing
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Lehnert, L.W.; Jung, P.; Obermeier, W.A.; Büdel, B.; Bendix, J. Estimating Net Photosynthesis of Biological Soil Crusts in the Atacama Using Hyperspectral Remote Sensing. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 891.

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