Workshop Summary

This workshop was jointly organized by ESA’s GlobDiversity and Future Earth’s Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment, bioDISCOVERY and Global Land Programme and hosted by the University of Zurich, Switzerland between February 7th and 9th, 2018. Approximately 30 experts from around the world attended with expertise in satellite remote sensing, LIDAR, ecology, plant science and ecological modelling.

Lectures and Panel Discussion

Here is a selection of live recordings from the public talks of invited speakers including a panel discussion which discussed the role of remote sensing in EBV development

Monitoring Biodiversity Change through Effective Global Coordination by Nestor Fernandez
Introduction to GlobDiversity by Michael Schaepman & Claudia Röösli
Remote-Sensing Constrained Predictions of Terrestrial Ecosystem Function by Paul Moorcroft
Filling Gaps in Global Biodiversity Data from Space by Dave Schimel
Panel Discussion led by Nestor Fernandez: How can RS-enabled EBVs contribute to global biodiversity monitoring efforts?

Workshop Exercise

The workshop participants were asked for their definitions of biodiversity as observed with remote sensing. Their answers were collated and summarised in a word cloud. Individual answers are listed in the table below.

Word cloud produced from participant definitions of “biodiversity” as observed with Remote Sensing
Participant's answers to the question "how to define biodiversity as observed with remote sensing?"
Characterization of habitats structures and functions and how these parameters could influence species
Variability in (physical, behavioural,…) properties of the biosphere that leaves traces in its reflected spectral signal at any point in space and time
Diversity of habitats, species and genes given in space and time
First, I don’t think the qualifier ‘as observed with remote sensing’ is necessary/appropriate. Biodiversity is biodiversity, and some remote sensing approaches can provide information on some forms of biodiversity. That said, my definition is inherently spatial: Biodiversity is “spatial” biological diversity
1) Using RS data to estimate individual species or species assemblages. For plants, like based on the spectral variation hypothesis
2) Applying environmental parameters (primary productivity, climate data, and habitat structure or area) derived from remotely sensed data as predictors for biodiversity
All variation in biological variables within a given unit of space and time
Remote sensing does not observe biodiversity per se (i.e. species, genes, functions, communities) but rather specific properties of biodiversity, e.g. spectral reflectance or NDVI remotely sensed and proxies observations of biodiversity are substitutes that nevertheless help us complete the picture
Variety of different biological live forms that can be observed and quantified in a much higher spatial and temporal resolution than with in-situ measurements, and that can be measured using different metrics such as species richness, variety on traits, etc.
Species (individual and population); community (groups and types); ecosystem (function and structure)
Monitoring of the temporal, spectral and spatial variability and inherent diversity in the structural, functional and compositional aspects of terrestrial and marine ecosystems from a top of canopy perspective
Spectral diversity; functional trait diversity
Habitat types, extent, fragmentation and some aspects of species population & traits & function
Number of species per set of pixels; which is probably impossible that leaves us with observing especially, assessment of changes over time; possibility to extend knowledge from in- situ measurements;
The diversity of living organisms and of their collective compositional and functional attributes
A RS image shows as much from biodiversity as a family photo from a family
Bio-“physical” diversity; the key driver of spectral diversity in a pixel where all non-natural surfaces have been removed. Pixel diversity in a neighbourhood or moving window … a satellite image (where non-natural surfaces have been removed
The diversity of certain components or land cover (biological components/ vegetation cover) over space and time as manifested by diversity of measurable attributes such as vegetation height, spatial configuration, greenness, chlorophyll content, phenology etc
foliage height diversity - vertical profile of canopy material as observed by light intercepting instruments
Remotely sensed biodiversity is the sum total of all biotic variation from the level of genes to ecosystems in space and time.
modified after Purvis & Hector, Nature, 2000

Workshop participants' answers to question:
How do you define “biodiversity” as observed with Remote Sensing?