Project

Observing effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning across time, space, and wavelength: oBEF-Across

Goal: The influence of Biodiversity on Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) has been investigated for decades using long-term experiments and ground observations. Today, novel remote sensing (RS) approaches are about to revolutionize research into BEF: Higher spectral resolutions now allow quantifying biodiversity patterns; unprecedented spatiotemporal resolutions advance analyzing ecosystem functioning. However, assessing BEF using RS data still remains a challenge. This project addresses this topic by exploring the potential of the Sentinels, EnMap, and ESA-Flex missions for revealing BEF across environmental gradients, and to assess their temporal “stability”. This project will generate and test new hypothesis, for instance regarding the post-disturbance BEF recovery. Key questions in the context of “biodiversity patterns” and “biodiversity functions” will profit and be broadened.

This project is funded by German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. This project is a collaborative effort among MPI-BGC (Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry), UL (University of Leipzig), and UFZ (Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research).

Date: 8 June 2017

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Ronny Richter
added a research item
Plant functional diversity (FD) is an important component of biodiversity. Evidence shows that FD strongly determines ecosystem functioning and stability and also regulates various ecosystem services that underpin human well-being. Given the importance of FD, it is critical to monitor its variations in an explicit manner across space and time, a highly demanding task that cannot be resolved solely by field data. Today, high hopes are placed on satellite-based observations to complement field plot data. The promise is that multiscale monitoring of plant FD, ecosystem functioning, and their services is now possible at global scales in near real-time. However, non-trivial scale challenges remain to be overcome before plant ecology can capitalize on the latest advances in Earth Observation (EO). Here, we articulate the existing scale challenges in linking field and satellite data and further elaborated in detail how to address these challenges via the latest innovations in optical and radar sensor technologies and image analysis algorithms. Addressing these challenges not only requires novel remote sensing theories and algorithms but also urges more effective communication between remote sensing scientists and field ecologists to foster mutual understanding of the existing challenges. Only through a collaborative approach can we achieve the global plant functional diversity monitoring goal.
Xuanlong Ma
added a research item
Plant functional diversity (FD) is an important component of biodiversity that characterizes the variability of functional traits within a community, landscape, or even large spatial scales. It can influence ecosystem processes and stability. Hence, it is important to understand how and why FD varies within and between ecosystems, along resources availability gradients and climate gradients, and across vegetation successional stages. Usually, FD is assessed through labor-intensive field measurements, while assessing FD from space may provide a way to monitor global FD changes in a consistent, time and resource efficient way. The potential of operational satellites for inferring FD, however, remains to be demonstrated. Here we studied the relationships between FD and spectral reflectance measurements taken by ESA's Sentinel-2 satellite over 117 field plots located in 6 European countries, with 46 plots having in-situ sampled leaf traits and the other 71 using traits from the TRY database. These field plots represent major European forest types, from boreal forests in Finland to Mediterranean mixed forests in Spain. Based on in-situ data collected in 2013 we computed functional dispersion (FDis), a measure of FD, using foliar and whole-plant traits of known ecological significance. These included five foliar traits: leaf nitrogen concentration (N%), leaf carbon concentration (%C), specific leaf area (SLA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), leaf area (LA). In addition they included three whole-plant traits: tree height (H), crown cross-sectional area (CCSA), and diameter-at-breast-height (DBH). We applied partial least squares regression using Sentinel-2 surface reflectance measured in 2015 as predictive variables to model in-situ FDis measurements. We predicted, in cross-validation, 55% of the variation in the observed FDis. We also showed that the red-edge, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of Sentinel-2 are more important than the visible region for predicting FDis. An initial 30-m resolution mapping of FDis revealed large local FDis variation within each forest type. The novelty of this study is the effective integration of spaceborne and in-situ measurements at a continental scale, and hence represents a key step towards achieving rapid global biodiversity monitoring schemes.
Xuanlong Ma
added an update
Dear oBEF-across project followers,
I am glad to let you know that we have submitted an abstract, entitled as "Developing spectral, structural, and phenological diversity proxies for monitoring biodiversity change across space and time using ESA’s Sentinel satellites", to one of the AGU Fall Meeting 2017 session, Development of Essential Biodiversity Variables: Progress and Challenges (https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm17/preliminaryview.cgi/Paper276205.html).
This session is hosted by three scientists from NASA and one scientist from ESRI (European Space Research Institute), including: Dr Allison Leidner (NASA headquarter), Dr @Geller Gray from NASA JPL, Dr @Turner Woody (NASA headquarter), and Dr @Paganini Marc from ESRI.
We hope that this abstract will be accepted by this session and I will represent the team to present our research this December in New Orleans. Please stay turned for our further update!
Besides, we have also had one abstract accepted by:
Look forward to seeing you at these conference venues if you will also attend them!
Xuanlong Ma updated this post on behalf of team oBef-Across: Miguel D Mahecha (MPI-BGC, Jena), Mirco Migliavacca (MPI-BGC, Jena), Markus Reichstein (MPI-BGC, Jena), Yunpeng Luo (MPI-BGC Jena), Christian Wirth (iDiv Leipzig), Private Profile (UFZ-Leipzig), @Andreas Huth (UFZ-Leipzig), Marcel Urban (FSU-Jena).
 
Xuanlong Ma
added a project goal
The influence of Biodiversity on Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) has been investigated for decades using long-term experiments and ground observations. Today, novel remote sensing (RS) approaches are about to revolutionize research into BEF: Higher spectral resolutions now allow quantifying biodiversity patterns; unprecedented spatiotemporal resolutions advance analyzing ecosystem functioning. However, assessing BEF using RS data still remains a challenge. This project addresses this topic by exploring the potential of the Sentinels, EnMap, and ESA-Flex missions for revealing BEF across environmental gradients, and to assess their temporal “stability”. This project will generate and test new hypothesis, for instance regarding the post-disturbance BEF recovery. Key questions in the context of “biodiversity patterns” and “biodiversity functions” will profit and be broadened.
This project is funded by German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. This project is a collaborative effort among MPI-BGC (Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry), UL (University of Leipzig), and UFZ (Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research).