Revealing the regime of shallow coral reefs at patch scale by continuous spatial modeling

Abstract : Reliably translating real-world spatial patterns of ecosystems is critical for understanding processes susceptible to reinforce resilience. However, the great majority of studies in spatial ecology use thematic maps to describe habitats and species in a binary scheme. By discretizing the transitional areas and neglecting the gradual replacement across a given space, the thematic approach may suffer from substantial limitations when interpreting patterns created by many continuous variables. Here, local and regional spectral proxies were used to design and spatially map at very fine scale a continuous index dedicated to one of the most complex seascapes, the coral reefscape. Through a groundbreaking merge of bottom-up and top-down approach, we demonstrate that three to seven-habitat continuous indices can be modeled by nine, six, four, and three spectral proxies, respectively, at 0.5 m spatial resolution using hand-and spaceborne measurements. We map the seven-habitat continuous index, spanning major Indo-Pacific coral reef habitats through the far red-green normalized difference ratio over the entire lagoon of a low (Tetiaroa atoll) and a high volcanic (Moorea) island in French Polynesia with 84 and 82% accuracy, respectively. Further examinations of the two resulting spatial models using a customized histoscape (density function of model values distributed on a concentric strip across the reef crest-coastline distance) show that Tetiaroa exhibits a greater variety of coral reef habitats than Moorea. By designing such easy-to-implement, transferrable spectral proxies of coral reef regime, this study initiates a framework for spatial ecologists tackling coral reef biodiversity, responses to stresses, perturbations and shifts. We discuss the limitations and contributions of our findings toward the study of worldwide coral reef resilience following stochastic environmental change.
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Frontiers in Marine Science, Frontiers Media, 2014, 〈10.3389/fmars.2014.00065〉
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Antoine Collin, Philippe Archambault, Serge Planes. Revealing the regime of shallow coral reefs at patch scale by continuous spatial modeling. Frontiers in Marine Science, Frontiers Media, 2014, 〈10.3389/fmars.2014.00065〉. 〈hal-01324157〉

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