Predicting Fish Biomass Through 3-D Coral Reef Remote Sensing

Source: Horton/Stanford University

Photo: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash


Coral reefs offer many tropical fish a vibrantly encrusted locale of refuge – a respite from the intense pressures of the sea – providing an opportunity for protection, nutrition and even reproduction. At the mercy of a warming ocean due to climate change, reefs are experiencing more frequent and damaging coral bleaching events, leaving fish (and other ocean dwellers) with barren accommodations in areas once ripe with life.

Research published this week in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservationemploys a new approach of combining two-dimensional and three-dimensional remotely sensed seascape models to more accurately identify complex  structure, and the populations of fish living within them. Creating cost effective and accurate spatial methods of identifying coastal “hotspots” is an essential step in the creation of effective management plans for marine protection and conservation.

“Mapping and placing value on reef areas that represent important biodiversity hotspots are important for coastal communities that rely on healthy reef fish populations for food, tourism and culture. This information can help to inform urgently needed management actions to sustain healthy reefs and healthy ,” said research lead Lisa Wedding, Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions research associate and recently appointed associate professor at the University of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment.

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Photo: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash

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