Detection of invasive plant species and assessment of their impact on ecosystem properties through remote sensing (partim remote sensing) (DIARS)

Start-End 01/06/2014 -  31/05/2017
Programme STEREO 3
Contract SR/67/315
Objective The biodiversity conservation policy of the European Commission includes the development of warning and rapid response systems for biological invasions and urges further investigations of their impacts on ecosystem function and services. However, accurately detecting and mapping invasive plant species distributions based on commonly used field surveys is a very time consuming process, often subject to observations bias, e.g. through undersurveying less accessible areas. Furthermore, and although the concerns regarding the implications of plant invasions have stimulated a considerable amount of research generating remarkable understanding of the invasion consequences, certain consequential impacts, particularly at the ecosystem level, are not readily detected using traditional approaches. Also the limited potential for generalization of impacts from the plot scale to the landscape and the regional scales remains a serious drawback of the classical field survey approaches.  
Remote sensing technology provides a promising avenue to upscaling the level of observations of biological invasion, as it provides a systematic, objective and synoptic view of the Earth’s surface. Remote sensing offers the capacity to generate large, statistically valid predictions of species distributions. It is yet largely underexplored and underused by ecologists, although it offers a great opportunity to target biological invasion and their impact at various spatial and temporal scales. By
bringing together ecologists and remote sensing specialists, DIARS will contribute to increase interdisciplinary links and to fill the gap between these two approaches.  
DIARS aims at better demonstrating and characterizing the impact of invasive species on ecosystems through the combined use of field data and data obtained through remote-sensing technologies. It also aims at supporting monitoring, prediction of spread and risk assessment of invasive plant species through remote sensing as preconditions for taking management measures for mitigation.
Method To achieve this goals, DIARS will: 

• Collect field and remote sensing data by:
   o Gathering baseline data or libraries of hyperspectral signatures for the invasive plant species and their co-occurring native species in the study sites :
   o Establishing a network of field plots and sampling soil and plant related variables
   o Acquiring hyperspectral APEX imagery and high density LiDAR data over the study areas

• Detect & monitor plant invasions by
   o Studying the spectral characteristics of native and invasive plants
   o Developing (and validating) an approach to create accurate fine scale baseline maps of the distribution of invasive plant species

• Model habitat suitability and forecast future distribution of invasive plants

• Assess and characterize the ecosystem impact of invasive species through the combined use of field data and aircraft-based measurements
Result EXPECTED SCIENTIFIC RESULTS

• Optimized methodology for creating accurate baseline maps of the distribution of invasive plant species based on hyperspectral and LiDAR data
• Assessment of the possibilities and constraints for generalization of the proposed advanced remote sensing approaches across ecosystems and invasive species
• Better understanding of the effects of biological invasions (for plants) on ecosystem properties/functioning, through remote sensing approaches

EXPECTED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

• Fine-resolution baseline maps and scenarios of the distribution of invasive plant species at the landscape scale
• Toolbox for remote sensing-based mapping, warning and impact assessment for invasive species
• Knowledge transfer and a hands-on training for ecologists, conservation biologists, policy makers and landscape managers across Europe
Website link
Team
Coordinator: VAN DE KERCKHOVE Ruben VITO - Remote Sensing
Location
Sensors used
Applications
Related presentations BEODay 2016 - 24. DIARS: Mapping, modelling and assessing the impact of invasive plant species on ecosystems through remote sensing
Related publications
Datasets used