The PI's request funding to develop an innovative light-field sensing instrument package that will enable dynamic characterization of the spatial, spectral, temporal, and polarization aspects of light in aquatic and other moist environments. This instrumentation will be small, portable and waterproof so that it can be readily deployed (e.g. by a SCUBA diver) in the exact natural habitats and time frames in which animals are interacting and light is changing. A new state-of-the-art Hyper-Spectral Imager (HSI) with rapid image exposure times and appropriate light sensitivity will be combined with a unique Multi- Channel-Spectro-Polarimeter (MCSP) that complements the HSI by rapidly measuring the downwelling and sidewelling light fields at the time of imaging.
Light plays a key role in many biotic and abiotic systems on earth. Animal and plant light-sensing systems use different aspects of light for numerous functions. This novel instrumentation set will provide a revolutionary capability of simultaneously acquiring detailed imagery and light-field data adaptable to many scientific endeavors. Here we focus our testing on dynamically behaving organisms (e.g. cephalopods and marine fishes) during visual communication and camouflage under changing light fields, but the instrumentation will be equally functional for studying static aquatic scenes (i.e., corals, seagrass) or a wide range of animals (birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, etc.) in high-humidity terrestrial environments such as rain forests.
The utility of the instrument proposed is without question. It would revolutionize the discipline of visual ecology and behavior. The technology limits what we can do today and these applicants believe they have designed a hyperspectral video imager and multichannel polarimeter that combines the best of both to give the investigator an unprecedented array of light information about visual scenes. The PI's are pushing all the right boundaries and that such an instrument will have broad applicability and appeal.