Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 13, pp 3287–3305

The ecosystem functioning dimension in conservation: insights from remote sensing

Authors

    • Departamento Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio GlobalUniversidad de Almería
  • Néstor Fernández
    • Departamento Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio GlobalUniversidad de Almería
    • Department of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de DoñanaSpanish Council for Scientific Research-CSIC
  • Domingo Alcaraz-Segura
    • Departamento Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio GlobalUniversidad de Almería
    • Environmental Sciences DepartmentUniversity of Virginia
    • Departamento de Botánica. Facultad de Ciencias, Campus Universitario de FuentenuevaUniversidad de Granada
    • Laboratorio de Análisis Regional y Teledetección, IFEVA-Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de Buenos Aires y CONICET
  • Cecilio Oyonarte
    • Departamento de Edafología y Química Agrícola, Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio GlobalUniversidad de Almería
  • Gervasio Piñeiro
    • Laboratorio de Análisis Regional y Teledetección, IFEVA-Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de Buenos Aires y CONICET
  • Alice Altesor
    • Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de la República
  • Miguel Delibes
    • Department of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de DoñanaSpanish Council for Scientific Research-CSIC
  • José M. Paruelo
    • Laboratorio de Análisis Regional y Teledetección, IFEVA-Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de Buenos Aires y CONICET
    • Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de la República
Review Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-012-0370-7

Cite this article as:
Cabello, J., Fernández, N., Alcaraz-Segura, D. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2012) 21: 3287. doi:10.1007/s10531-012-0370-7

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Conservation planning Ecosystem functioning descriptors Ecosystem monitoring Environmental change Protected areas Restoration ecology Species–environment relationships

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012