Consideration of scale in remote sensing of biodiversity

John A. Gamon, Ran Wang, Hamed Gholizadeh, Brian Zutta, Phil A. Townsend, Jeannine Cavender-Bares

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


A coherent and effective remote sensing (RS) contribution to biodiversity monitoring requires careful consideration of scale in all its dimensions, including spatial, temporal, spectral, and angular, along with biodiversity at different levels of biological organization. Recent studies of the relationship between optical diversity (spectral diversity) and biodiversity reveal a scale dependence that can be influenced by the RS methods used, vegetation type, and degree and nature of disturbance. To better understand these issues, we call for multi-scale field campaigns that test the effect of sampling scale, vegetation type, and degree of disturbance on the ability to detect different kinds of biodiversity, along with the development of improved models that incorporate both physical and biological principles as well as ecological and evolutionary theory. One goal of these studies would be to more closely match instrumentation and sampling scales to biological definitions of biodiversity and so improve optical diversity (spectral diversity) as a proxy for biodiversity. The ultimate goal would be to design and implement a truly effective, “scale-aware” global biodiversity monitoring system employing RS methods. Such a system could improve our understanding of the distribution and functional importance of biodiversity and enhance our ability to manage ecosystems for resilience and sustainability in a changing world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRemote Sensing of Plant Biodiversity
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783030331573
ISBN (Print)9783030331566
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020.


  • Angular scale
  • Biological diversity
  • Optical diversity
  • Optical remote sensing
  • Scale
  • Scaling
  • Spatial scale
  • Spectral diversity
  • Spectral scale
  • Temporal scale


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