Advanced Photogrammetry to Assess Lichen Colonization in the Hyper-arid Namib Desert

aut.relation.journalFrontiers in Microbiologyen_NZ
aut.researcherHinchliffe, Graham
dc.contributor.authorHinchliffe, Gen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorBollard-Breen, Ben_NZ
dc.contributor.authorCowan, DAen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorDoshi, Aen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorGillman, LNen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorRios-Murillo, Aen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorMaggs-Kolling, Gen_NZ
dc.contributor.authorPointing, SBen_NZ
dc.contributor.editorTeske, Aen_NZ
dc.description.abstractThe hyper-arid central region of the Namib Desert is characterised by quartz desert pavement terrain that is devoid of vascular plant covers. In this extreme habitat the only discernible surface covers are epilithic lichens that colonise exposed surfaces of quartz rocks. These lichens are highly susceptible to disturbance and so field surveys have been limited due to concerns about disturbing this unusual desert feature. Here we present findings that illustrate how non-destructive surveys based upon advanced photogrammetry techniques can yield meaningful and novel scientific data on these lichens. We combined ‘structure from motion analysis’, computer vision and GIS to create 3-dimensional point clouds from two-dimensional imagery. The data were robust in its application to estimating absolute lichen cover. An orange Stellarangia spp. assemblage had coverage of 22.8% of available substrate, whilst for a black Xanthoparmelia spp. assemblage coverage was markedly lower at 0.6% of available substrate. Hyperspectral signatures for both lichens were distinct in the near-infra red range indicating that Xanthoparmelia spp. was likely under relatively more moisture stress than Stellarangia spp. at the time of sampling, and we postulate that albedo effects may have contributed to this in the black lichen. Further transformation of the data revealed a colonisation preference for west-facing quartz surfaces and this coincides with prevailing winds for marine fog that is the major source of moisture in this system. Furthermore, a three-dimensional ‘fly through’ of the lichen habitat was created to illustrate how the application of computer vision in microbiology has further potential as a research and education tool. We discuss how advanced photogrammetry could be applied in astrobiology using autonomous rovers to add quantitative ecological data for visible surface colonisation on the surface of Mars.en_NZ
dc.identifier.citationFrontiers in Microbiology, 8:2083. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02083
dc.publisherFrontiers Mediaen_NZ
dc.rights© 2017 Hinchliffe, Bollard-Breen, Cowan, Doshi, Gillman, Maggs-Kolling, de Los Rios and Pointing. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
dc.subjectAstrobiology; Computer vision; Desert; GIS; Lichen; Microbial ecology; Namib Desert; Photogrammetry
dc.titleAdvanced Photogrammetry to Assess Lichen Colonization in the Hyper-arid Namib Deserten_NZ
dc.typeJournal Article
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/Health & Environmental Science
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/Health & Environmental Science/Applied Science
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/Health & Environmental Science/School of Science
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/PBRF/PBRF Health and Environmental Sciences
pubs.organisational-data/AUT/PBRF/PBRF Health and Environmental Sciences/HA Science 2018 PBRF
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