Comparative reflectance properties of algal cultures with manipulated densities

Anatoly A. Gitelson, John F. Schalles, Donald C. Rundquist, Frank R. Schiebe, Yosef Z. Yacobi

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57 Scopus citations


A comparative study was conducted with representatives of four ecologically important freshwater algal phyla (Chlorophyta, Cyanophyta, Bacillariophyta and Pyrrophyta) in order to (1) analyze the relationship between reflectance spectral features and algal density, and (2) to elucidate and characterize possible diagnostic spectral reflectance features for identification of dominant groups in algal bloom states. Algae (two chlorophytes, a cyanophyte and a bacillariophyte) were cultured in mesocosm tanks and then their densities were reduced through dilution with clear water in four experiments. In a fifth experiment, use was made of the pyrrophyte Peridinium gatunense, which bloomed in Lake Kinneret, Israel, practically forming a unialgal 'culture'. The basic quantitative procedures for spectroradiometeric measurements and support data collection (pigment concentrations) were consistent among the experiments. Several spectral reflectance characteristics were found to be common to all the species examined in the study: a depression between 440 and 500 nm, a salient trough around 670 nm, and prominent peaks centered around 570 nm and 700 nm. The increase in magnitude of a near infra-red peak and shift of its position towards longer wavelengths with increased chlorophyll-a concentration was found to be a common trait for all the species studied other specific spectral reflectance features were also found and are discussed here. Quantitatively different relationships of magnitude and position of spectral reflectance features with chlorophyll-a concentration reflect different optical properties of algae (their scattering and absorption). This may be useful for taxonomic characterization by remote sensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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