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Remote Sensing of Plant Biodiversity

Cavender-Bares, Jeannine and Gamon, John A. and Townsend, Philip (2020) Remote Sensing of Plant Biodiversity. Springer , Cham, Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-030-33157-3.

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At last, here it is. For some time now, the world has needed a text providing both a new theoretical foundation and practical guidance on how to approach the challenge of biodiversity decline in the Anthropocene. This is a global challenge demanding global approaches to understand its scope and implications. Until recently, we have simply lacked the tools to do so. We are now entering an era in which we can realistically begin to understand and monitor the multidimensional phenomenon of biodiversity at a planetary scale. This era builds upon three centuries of scientific research on biodiversity at site to landscape levels, augmented over the past two decades by airborne research platforms carrying spectrometers, lidars, and radars for larger-scale observations. Emerging international networks of fine-grain in-situ biodiversity observations complemented by space-based sensors offering coarser-grain imagery—but global coverage—of ecosystem composition, function, and structure together provide the information necessary to monitor and track change in biodiversity globally. This book is a road map on how to observe and interpret terrestrial biodiversity across scales through plants—primary producers and the foundation of the trophic pyramid. It honors the fact that biodiversity exists across different dimensions, including both phylogenetic and functional. Then, it relates these aspects of biodiversity to another dimension, the spectral diversity captured by remote sensing instruments operating at scales from leaf to canopy to biome. The biodiversity community has needed a Rosetta Stone to translate between the language of satellite remote sensing and its resulting spectral diversity and the languages of those exploring the phylogenetic diversity and functional trait diversity of life on Earth. By assembling the vital translation, this volume has globalized our ability to track biodiversity state and change. Thus, a global problem meets a key component of the global solution. The editors have cleverly built the book in three parts. Part 1 addresses the theory behind the remote sensing of terrestrial plant biodiversity: why spectral diversity relates to plant functional traits and phylogenetic diversity. Starting with first principles, it connects plant biochemistry, physiology, and macroecology to remotely sensed spectra and explores the processes behind the patterns we observe. Examples from the field demonstrate the rising synthesis of multiple disciplines to create a new cross-spatial and spectral science of biodiversity. Part 2 discusses how to implement this evolving science. It focuses on the plethora of novel in-situ, airborne, and spaceborne Earth observation tools currently and soon to be available while also incorporating the ways of actually making biodiversity measurements with these tools. It includes instructions for organizing and conducting a field campaign. Throughout, there is a focus on the burgeoning field of imaging spectroscopy, which is revolutionizing our ability to characterize life remotely. Part 3 takes on an overarching issue for any effort to globalize biodiversity observations, the issue of scale. It addresses scale from two perspectives. The first is that of combining observations across varying spatial, temporal, and spectral resolutions for better understanding—that is, what scales and how. This is an area of ongoing research driven by a confluence of innovations in observation systems and rising computational capacity. The second is the organizational side of the scaling challenge. It explores existing frameworks for integrating multi-scale observations within global networks. The focus here is on what practical steps can be taken to organize multi-scale data and what is already happening in this regard. These frameworks include essential biodiversity variables and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON). This book constitutes an end-to-end guide uniting the latest in research and techniques to cover the theory and practice of the remote sensing of plant biodiversity. In putting it together, the editors and their coauthors, all preeminent in their fields, have done a great service for those seeking to understand and conserve life on Earth—just when we need it most. For if the world is ever to construct a coordinated response to the planetwide crisis of biodiversity loss, it must first assemble adequate—and global—measures of what we are losing.

Item Type:Book
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Gamon, John A.0000-0002-8269-7723
Additional Information:© 2020 The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s). This book is an open access publication. Open Access This book is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies
Subject Keywords:Remote detection of biodiversity; Retrieving functional traits from spectra; Community assembly; Spectral diversity; Leaf optical properties; Hyperspectral field data collection and processing; Spatial resolution and integration across scales; Micro and macroscopic structure of leaves; Detection of disease and decline in forests; Ocean and aquatic biodiversity; Open Access
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200722-122141409
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:104510
Deposited By: Iryna Chatila
Deposited On:22 Jul 2020 19:54
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:32

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