The effect of epidermal structures on leaf spectral signatures of ice plants (Aizoaceae)

René Hans Jürgen Heim*, Norbert Jürgens, André Große-Stoltenberg, Jens Oldeland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Epidermal structures (ES) of leaves are known to affect the functional properties and spectral responses. Spectral studies focused mostly on the effect of hairs or wax layers only. We studied a wider range of different ES and their impact on spectral properties. Additionally, we identified spectral regions that allow distinguishing different ES. We used a field spectrometer to measure ex situ leaf spectral responses from 350 nm-2500 nm. A spectral library for 25 species of the succulent family Aizoaceae was assembled. Five functional types were defined based on ES: flat epidermal cell surface, convex to papillary epidermal cell surface, bladder cells, hairs and wax cover. We tested the separability of ES using partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) based on the spectral data. Subsequently, variable importance (VIP) was calculated to identify spectral regions relevant for discriminating our functional types (classes). Classification performance was high, with a kappa value of 0.9 indicating well-separable spectral classes. VIP calculations identified six spectral regions of increased importance for the classification. We confirmed and extended previous findings regarding the visible-near-infrared spectral region. Our experiments also confirmed that epidermal leaf traits can be classified due to clearly distinguishable spectral signatures across species and genera within the Aizoaceae. 2015 by the authors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16901-16914
Number of pages14
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aizoaceae
  • Biophysical properties
  • Field spectrometry
  • Hyperspectral classification
  • Leaf epidermis
  • Leaf traits
  • Optical types
  • Plant functional types
  • Succulent plants


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