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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(4), 273;

Spectral Reflectance of Polar Bear and Other Large Arctic Mammal Pelts; Potential Applications to Remote Sensing Surveys

Flight Research Laboratory, National Research Council of Canada, 1920 Research Rd., Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada 1125 Colonel By, Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3, Canada
Department of Geography, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke West, Montreal, QC H3A 0B9, Canada
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Susan L. Ustin, Magaly Koch and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 6 November 2015 / Revised: 2 March 2016 / Accepted: 7 March 2016 / Published: 25 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Biodiversity)
Full-Text   |   PDF [15236 KB, uploaded 25 March 2016]   |  


Spectral reflectance within the 350–2500 nm range was measured for 17 pelts of arctic mammals (polar bear, caribou, muskox, and ringed, harp and bearded seals) in relation to snow. Reflectance of all pelts was very low at the ultraviolet (UV) end of the spectrum (<10%), increased through the visual and near infrared, peaking at 40%–60% between 1100 and 1400 nm and then gradually dropped, though remaining above 20% until at least 1800 nm. In contrast, reflectance of snow was very high in the UV range (>90%), gradually dropped to near zero at 1500 nm, and then fluctuated between zero and 20% up to 2500 nm. All pelts could be distinguished from clean snow at many wavelengths. The polar bear pelts had higher and more uniform averaged reflectance from about 600–1100 nm than most other pelts, but discrimination was challenging due to variation in pelt color and intensity among individuals within each species. Results suggest promising approaches for using remote sensing tools with a broad spectral range to discriminate polar bears and other mammals from clean snow. Further data from live animals in their natural environment are needed to develop functions to discriminate among species of mammals and to determine whether other environmental elements may have similar reflectance. View Full-Text
Keywords: polar bear; seal; spectral signature; muskox; caribou; hyperspectral polar bear; seal; spectral signature; muskox; caribou; hyperspectral

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Leblanc, G.; Francis, C.M.; Soffer, R.; Kalacska, M.; de Gea, J. Spectral Reflectance of Polar Bear and Other Large Arctic Mammal Pelts; Potential Applications to Remote Sensing Surveys. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 273.

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