Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

Past work as part of our NASA Interdisciplinary Science (IDS) project addressed using vertical canopy observations from lidar and a height-structured ecosystem model for applications in carbon cycling and biodiversity at local scales. The intent of this work was to demonstrate the utility of merging structure measurements and ecosystem modeling for carbon and biodiversity studies. Our work showed that lidar is an unparalleled technology for characterizing vertical forest structure, and that vertical forest structure, when used to drive ecosystem models, can greatly improve model carbon stock and flux estimates. More relevant to the current call, our work also showed that vertical canopy structure is an important factor related to species richness and distribution at local scales. Specifically, canopy structure metrics derived from lidar are good indicators of habitat heterogeneity, thus bird species richness and habitat use. We now propose to conduct research that is to focused on addressing the importance of vertical structure information across gradients and at regional to continental scales. We propose to integrate canopy structure metrics, derived from a combination of lidar and other remotely sensed data sets, into models of habitat suitability and associated species distribution, richness and abundance. The work would be conducted in the coterminous United States, making extensive use of in situ biodiversity observations, particularly the USGS Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data sets, which we have worked with extensively and have compiled into formats suitable for our analyses. The BBS data would, as per the remote sensing data sets, be treated as sample distributions across the landscape (routes are ~1km wide). As such, we would spatially extrapolate the BBS data across aggregated model grid cells using stratification by land cover and vegetation type information (from NLCD), with weightings proportional to conditions within the BBS routes. This will ensure that comparisons of BBS variables with gridded canopy structure distributions are meaningful. The comparisons will, as with our previous work, be conducted using the statistical and data-mining approaches. Our primary objective is thus to quantify vegetation structure, as a surrogate for habitat heterogeneity, within USGS Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) routes arrayed along productivity gradients and across different types of land use. We would examine the mechanisms underlying the canopy structure - BBS diversity relationships by quantifying the abundance of individual bird species and species richness of guilds of different functional types along energy gradients. This analysis would be augmented with other geographic data sets (land use, canopy density, forest disturbance metrics) to assess how these influence BBS species richness and habitat use relative to canopy structure derived from lidar. Because this work will require the incorporation of continental ICESAT-GLAS observations into habitat suitability models, it will also allow us to develop and assess a framework for utilizing global canopy structure measurements from space.

Project PI: Scott Goetz/Woods Hole Research Center

Woods Hole Research Center 149 Woods Hole Road Falmouth, MA 02540-1644

Phone: (508) 444-1530

Fax: (508) 444-1830



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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Feb 09, 2011


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