Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (8): 807-818.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2018079

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Applications of satellite and air-borne remote sensing in biodiversity research and conservation

Zhiyao Tang1,2,*(), Minwei Jiang2, Jian Zhang3, Xinyue Zhang2   

  1. 1 Institute of Ecology, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    3 College of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241
  • Received:2018-07-19 Accepted:2018-08-28 Online:2018-08-20 Published:2018-09-27
  • Contact: Tang Zhiyao
  • About author:# Co-first authors


Human activities has increasingly threatened the biodiversity of the world. Biodiversity science is a discipline that depends on scale, and research questions are often affected by the ecological process of multi-temporal scales. The traditional survey methods of biodiversity are often limited by human and material resources. It is therefore urgent to integrate different data sources in the biodiversity sciences. The remote sensing technique has developed from optical remote sensing to the multi-source remote sensing including different platforms combined with various sensors, and further to integrate the hyperspectral and hyper spatial resolution and light detection and ranging (LiDAR). The large coverage, the accessibility to remote areas, and the long-term repeatability of the remote sensing technique provide new and better solutions for studying ecological and scientific issues at different temporal and spatial scales. In this paper, we review the opportunity and challenges in the application of remote sensing in biodiversity sciences and conservation practices. Specifically, we focus on the applications of remote sensing in the issues related to the population dynamics, species interaction and community diversity, functional traits and functional diversity and biodiversity management. We suggest that the satellite and airborne remotes that employed multi-band or hyperspectral, high spatial resolution and LiDAR provide biodiversity information from different scopes, and will play essential roles in the investigation of biodiversity in large-scale and remote areas. In the near future, species discrimination technique based on spectral characteristics and structure detection based on LiDAR will improve our understanding of the biodiversity sciences and management. We suggest to strengthen the communication between remote-sensing scientists and biodiversity researchers to promote the application of remote sensing technologies in biodiversity research and at different temporal and spatial scales.

Key words: remote sensing application, population dynamics, biodiversity, functional trait diversity, conservation