The Ecosystem Functioning Dimension in Conservation: insights from remote sensing.

Published in Biodibersity and Conservation, v. 21:3287-3305

Cabello, J., Fernández, N., Alcaraz-Segura, D., Oyonarte, C., Pi neiro, G., Altesor, A., Delibes, M. and Paruelo, J.M.

Publication year 2012
  • Departamento Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio Global, Universidad de Almería, Ctra. Sacramento s/n La Cañada de San Urbano, 04120 Almerı´a, Spain
  • Department of Conservation Biology, Estación Biolo´gica de Doñana, Spanish Council for Scientific Research-CSIC, Av. Américo Vespucio s/n, 41092 Sevilla, Spain
  • Environmental Sciences Department, University of Virginia, 291 McCormick Road, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA
  • Departamento de Botánica. Facultad de Ciencias, Campus Universitario de Fuentenueva, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
  • Laboratorio de Análisis Regional y Teledetección, IFEVA-Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires y CONICET, Av. San Martín, 4453, 1417 Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Departamento de Edafología y Química Agrícola, Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio Global, Universidad de Almería, Ctra. Sacramento s/n, La Cañada de San Urbano, 04120 Almería, Spain
  • Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Iguá 4225, Montevideo, Uruguay
IAI Program


IAI Project CRN3094


An important goal of conservation biology is the maintenance of ecosystem processes. Incorporating quantitative measurements of ecosystem functions into conservation practice is important given that it provides not only proxies for biodiversity patterns, but also new tools and criteria for management. In the satellite era, the translation of spectral information into ecosystem functional variables expands and complements the more traditional use of satellite imagery in conservation biology. Remote sensing scientists have generated accurate techniques to quantify ecosystem processes and properties of key importance for conservation planning such as primary production, ecosystem carbon gains, surface temperature, albedo, evapotranspiration, and precipitation use efficiency however, these techniques are still unfamiliar to conservation biologists. In this article, we identify specific fields where a remotely-sensed characterization of ecosystem functioning may aid conservation science and practice. Such fields include the management and monitoring of species and populations of conservation concern the assessment of ecosystem representativeness and singularity the use of protected areas as reference sites to assess global change effects the implementation of monitoring and warning systems to guide adaptive management the direct evaluation of supporting ecosystem services and the planning and monitoring of ecological restorations. The approaches presented here illustrate feasible ways to incorporate the ecosystem functioning dimension into conservation through the use of satellite-derived information.