Prospects and priorities for satellite monitoring of global terrestrial biodiversity

Integrating science and technology to monitor global biodiversity patterns and trends

Principal Investigator(s): 

Frank Davis (PI), David Schimel, Mark Schildhauer, Ryan Pavlick

Global geospatial data are essential for understanding and predicting the role of ecosystems in the Earth System. As the world enters the Anthropocene, a new geologic period defined by humanity’s signature on the planet, the Earth’s rapidly changing environment is putting critical ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, climate regulation, and food production at risk. Current rates of climate change in the terrestrial biosphere exceed the highest rates observed in the recent paleo-record and may increase further. Predicting ecosystem changes in the next century will require far more detailed data on functional diversity than exists today in order to predict physiological, community and ecosystem processes.

This Working Group will investigate the use of remote sensing for global biodiversity research and how this new technological dimension can complement and integrate with the three other dimensions of biodiversity science: genetics, taxonomic/phylogenetic, and functional dimensions of biodiversity. The team will identify grand challenges in biodiversity research and how remote sensing can address these challenges as a complementary fourth dimension of biodiversity science. They intend to complete a proof-of-concept case study for integrating the spectral, functional, and phylogenetic/taxonomic information resources. The Working Group will collaborate on a manuscript that will describe and promote the synthesis of hyperspectral imagery with functional, genomic and phylogenetic information in biodiversity science. Lastly, the group will suggest requirements for a spaceborne hyperspectral mission to address the urgent need for truly global biodiversity data, and inform the NASA Decadal Survey process.

More information for project participants