Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 3–20 | Cite as

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

  • Hiroyuki MuraokaEmail author
  • Hiroshi Koizumi
Current Topics in Plant Research


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.


Carbon cycle CO2 flux Ecosystem Ecophysiology Remote sensing Satellite ecology 



Enhanced vegetation index


Gross primary production


Leaf area index


Land surface model


Moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer


Normalized difference vegetation index


Net ecosystem exchange


Net ecosystem production


Net primary production


Plant area index


Photosynthetic active radiation


Ecosystem respiration


Autotrophic respiration


Heterotrophic respiration


Root respiration


Maximum velocity of carboxylation



We thank the members of ‘SATECO’ and colleagues at the Takayama site, especially T. Akiyama, K.N. Nasahara, S. Nagai, T.M. Saitoh, M. Ishihara, J. Yoshino, H. Noda, I. Tamagawa, T. Ohtsuka, T. Motohka, N. Saigusa and S. Murayama, for their help in preparing this paper. Thanks are also due to S. Yamamoto (Okayama University), J.D. Tenhunen (University Bayreuth), S. Mariko (Hosei University), Y. Son (Korea University), J. Fang (Peking University), J. Kim (Yonsei University), A. Ito (NIES), R.W. Pearcy (UC Davis), H. Shibata and T. Hirano (Hokkaido University) for their encouragement, discussions and collaborations. All field work at the Takayama site is supported by K. Kurumado and Y. Miyamoto (Gifu University). Research described in this paper and our activity in Takayama site have been financially supported by the JSPS/MEXT 21st Century COE Program, the Global Environment Research Fund of the Ministry of Environment Japan (S-1: Integrated Study for Terrestrial Carbon Management of Asia in the 21st Century Based on Scientific Advancement), the JSPS A3 Foresight Program (Gifu University, Korea University and Peking University), the JSPS Joint Research Program (Japan–Germany) and a Grant-in-Aid (KAKENHI, JSPS) to H.M. and H.K. Finally we thank the Journal of Plant Research for inviting us to write this paper, and also the anonymous reviewers for their positive comments on our manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.River Basin Research CenterGifu UniversityGifuJapan
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of EducationWaseda UniversityTokyoJapan

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