Seasonal patterns of spectral diversity at leaf and canopy scales in the Cedar Creek prairie biodiversity experiment

Ran Wang, John A. Gamon, Jeannine Cavender-Bares

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7 Scopus citations


The relationship between biodiversity and spectral diversity is highly scale-dependent, and temporal variation in leaf morphological, biochemical traits and canopy structure can alter this relationship. However, the temporal dependence of the spectral diversity – biodiversity relationship is poorly understood, in part due to the difficulties of obtaining consistent measurements across space and time. Using leaf pigments and leaf and canopy reflectance throughout a growing season in the Cedar Creek prairie biodiversity experiment, we explored phenological effects on the scale dependence of the spectral biodiversity – biodiversity relationship. Leaf reflectance spectra displayed larger among-species variation than leaf pigments, indicating that leaf reflectance contained more information for distinguishing species than some leaf trait measurements. At the canopy scale, spectral variation derived using reflectance was mainly driven by among-species variation. The canopy scale spectral diversity was also influenced by changing vegetation percent cover, key phenological events (e.g., flowering), and disturbance (drought). Our results revealed that contrasting phenological patterns of spectral diversity metrics emerged at leaf and canopy scales. Because a misunderstanding of these contrasting temporal effects across spatial scales can lead to possible misinterpretations of the spectral diversity – biodiversity relationship or of their underlying causes, more research effort is needed to understand these cross-scale temporal effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113169
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the help from the staff at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, particularly Troy Mielke and Kally Worm, and research assistant Jonathan Anderson. We appreciate Keren Bitan, Austin Pieper and Cathleen Lapadat for extracting pigment contents and analyzing them using HPLC. This study was supported by a NASA and NSF grant ( DEB-1342872 ), NSF BII Implementation grant ( DBI--2021898 ), and NSF-LTER grants ( DEB-1234162 and NSF DEB-1831944 ) to J. Cavender-Bares, and by iCORE/AITF ( G224150012 & 200700172 ), NSERC ( RGPIN-2015-05129 ), and CFI ( 26793 ) grants to J. Gamon. The authors acknowledge constructive comments from two anonymous reviewers that greatly improved the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • Biodiversity
  • Grassland
  • Optical diversity
  • Phenology
  • Remote sensing
  • Scale
  • Spectral diversity


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