Current Topics in Plant Research

Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 3-20

First online:

Satellite Ecology (SATECO)—linking ecology, remote sensing and micrometeorology, from plot to regional scale, for the study of ecosystem structure and function

  • Hiroyuki MuraokaAffiliated withRiver Basin Research Center, Gifu University Email author 
  • , Hiroshi KoizumiAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Education, Waseda University

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Abstract

There is a growing requirement for ecosystem science to help inform a deeper understanding of the effects of global climate change and land use change on terrestrial ecosystem structure and function, from small area (plot) to landscape, regional and global scales. To meet these requirements, ecologists have investigated plant growth and carbon cycling processes at plot scale, using biometric methods to measure plant carbon accumulation, and gas exchange (chamber) methods to measure soil respiration. Also at the plot scale, micrometeorologists have attempted to measure canopy- or ecosystem-scale CO2 flux by the eddy covariance technique, which reveals diurnal, seasonal and annual cycles. Mathematical models play an important role in integrating ecological and micrometeorological processes into ecosystem scales, which are further useful in interpreting time-accumulated information derived from biometric methods by comparing with CO2 flux measurements. For a spatial scaling of such plot-level understanding, remote sensing via satellite is used to measure land use/vegetation type distribution and temporal changes in ecosystem structures such as leaf area index. However, to better utilise such data, there is still a need for investigations that consider the structure and function of ecosystems and their processes, especially in mountainous areas characterized by complex terrain and a mosaic distribution of vegetation. For this purpose, we have established a new interdisciplinary approach named ‘Satellite Ecology’, which aims to link ecology, remote sensing and micrometeorology to facilitate the study of ecosystem function, at the plot, landscape, and regional scale.

Keywords

Carbon cycle CO2 flux Ecosystem Ecophysiology Remote sensing Satellite ecology