Skip to Main Content
To develop a more complete foundation for remote sensing of the marsh grass Juncus roemerianus, we measured the optical properties of its cylindrical leaves at sites of different canopy height, biomass composition and amount, and connectivity to ocean flushing. To measure the leaf optical properties, we adapted a technique used for conifer needles. After establishing the reliability and limits of the adapted technique to the wider J.roemerianus leaves, mean transmittance and reflectance spectra were compared to associated leaf diameters from two dates in 1999 and 2002 and at each site. Transmittance was inversely related to leaf diameter. Mean transmittance and reflectance generated from reoccupation of many field sites in 2002 indicated little or no difference in transmittance between years, a slight reflectance difference in the visible (<2%) and a slightly higher reflectance difference in the near infrared (NIR) (<4%). Site comparison indicated limited ability to separate leaf transmittance but not reflectance by marsh type (e.g., low, medium, high) or biomass. Excluding one outlier, we found leaf transmittances could be adequately represented as 1% ± 0.2% in the visible and 9% ± 1% in the NIR and leaf reflectances represented from 14% to 16% in the visible and 71% to 75% in the NIR (the reflectance ranges represent 1999 and 2002 means). Reflectance and transmittance spectra associated with the dead J. roemerianus leaves displayed a spectrally flat increase from the visible to the NIR wavelengths. In total, we documented the atypical optical properties of the cylindrical J. roemerianus leaves and showed that to a first approximation, single means could represent leaf transmittance and visible leaf reflectance across all marsh zones and, after accounting for sample standardization, possibly the NIR reflectance as well.