At Contour Innovations we stand on the shoulders of giants who proved commercial depthfinders are precise scientific instruments for the measurement of aquatic plant abundance and distribution in lakes. As early as 1980, researchers saw the potential for fathometers/chart recorders/depth finders/sonar/echosounders – whatever you want to call them – to substantially reduce time, effort, and cost in assessing aquatic plant communities in lakes (Maceina and Shireman 1980).
The commercial sounders of the 1980’s had only a fraction of the power and resolution of what Lowrance manufactures today (not to mention integration with GPS) and investigators still boasted of the quality and cost-effectiveness of the data acquired. Here are some excerpts:
Maceina and Shireman (1980): “The principle advantage of utilizing a recording fathometer for vegetation surveys is that savings in time and manpower can be accomplished. In Lake Baldwin, 14 transects covering a total distance of 11.3 km were completed in three hours.” p 38.
Duarte (1987): “Direct harvesting is an expensive and time-consuming procedure (see Downing and Anderson 1985). Two SCUBA divers require 20 min on average to harvest the biomass of six replicate quadrats at a single depth. In contrast, six replicate echosounder transects require only 8-35 min to obtain biomass estimates for all depths, with the actual time required dependent on the littoral slope and the depth to which the plants grow. Additional advantages of the echosounder method are (1) a continuous record of the vegetation, rather than at discrete depths only, with the latter resulting in inaccuracies when the mean biomass values are estimated, (2) nondestructive sampling, which allows monitoring of the growth of stands over time and (3) simultaneous recording of other variables such as percent cover (Stant and Hanley 1985), volume occupied by the submerged vegetation, and littoral slope (Duarte and Kalff 1986), which influences macrophyte biomass.” p. 734
In fact, Duarte (1987) publishes biomass prediction equation from acoustic estimates of plant height (a ciBioBase output) for 22 aquatic plant species.
Thomas et al. (1990): “Fortunately, shallow range (0-7 m) chart recorders are standard on many low cost (less than $400) commercial echosounders, so the data acquisition equipment costs are relatively low with respect to fisheries acoustic assessments, which makes this procedure relatively nontechnical and very cost effective” p. 810
The concept of using commercial acoustics for mapping lake bottoms is established and proven. Contour Innovations has refined, streamlined, and automated the methodology with ciBioBase and delivers an intuitive visualization of the complex underwater world we call littoral zones.
|A Raytheon DE-719 “fathometer” relic when plant biovolume was measured on paper charts with the use of planimeters. Photo from www.euronet.nl.|
|Paper chart from a Raytheon DE-719 displaying dense hydrilla canopies and bottom in a central Florida lake. Reproduced from Maceina and Shireman 1980; J. Aquat. Plant Manage.|