Remote characterization of photosynthetic communities in the Fryxell basin of Taylor Valley, Antarctica

Mark R. Salvatore, Schuyler R. Borges, John E. Barrett, Eric R. Sokol, Lee F. Stanish, Sarah N. Power, Paul Morin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We investigate the spatial distribution, spectral properties and temporal variability of primary producers (e.g. communities of microbial mats and mosses) throughout the Fryxell basin of Taylor Valley, Antarctica, using high-resolution multispectral remote-sensing data. Our results suggest that photosynthetic communities can be readily detected throughout the Fryxell basin based on their unique near-infrared spectral signatures. Observed intra- and inter-annual variability in spectral signatures are consistent with short-term variations in mat distribution, hydration and photosynthetic activity. Spectral unmixing is also implemented in order to estimate mat abundance, with the most densely vegetated regions observed from orbit correlating spatially with some of the most productive regions of the Fryxell basin. Our work establishes remote sensing as a valuable tool in the study of these ecological communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys and demonstrates how future scientific investigations and the management of specially protected areas could benefit from these tools and techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-270
Number of pages16
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Key words ecology
  • McMurdo Dry Valleys
  • hydrology
  • microbiology
  • remote sensing
  • spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Remote characterization of photosynthetic communities in the Fryxell basin of Taylor Valley, Antarctica'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this