Research Topic

Remote sensing of invasive species

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Invasive species are increasingly recognized as key factors in the breakdown of ecosystem function, processes, and services, and loss of native biodiversity. The success of invasive species alters the dynamics of other species in the habitat leading to irreversible changes, ultimately with losses of native ...

Invasive species are increasingly recognized as key factors in the breakdown of ecosystem function, processes, and services, and loss of native biodiversity. The success of invasive species alters the dynamics of other species in the habitat leading to irreversible changes, ultimately with losses of native biodiversity that can impact the stability and resilience of the ecosystem, possibly by loss of functional traits associated with resource capture and decomposition. Invasive plant species are a global problem and the pace of biological invasions requires better early knowledge about the location of invaded communities, the invasive species responsible and the native composition of the ecosystem, the environmental conditions and rates of change in these conditions that favor establishment, spread and persistence of invasive plants, and their interactions. There are important roles for remote sensing in providing information to answer these questions, particularly in identifying and mapping the presence and spread of invasive species in an ecosystem, the conditions that favor invasive species dynamics, and to aid in predicting future changes or long term consequences. High spatial and spectral resolution sensors, particularly airborne imaging spectroscopy, have demonstrated promise to map plant species based on their particular distinctive spectral features in the visible to shortwave infrared spectrum, and even with thermal infrared spectrometers either on single images or through seasonal and inter-annual changes. Other technologies like LiDAR show promise for differentiating species based on3D crown structure and spatial characteristics. Synergistic use of these technologies has promise for improved monitoring of invasive plant species and their impacts on the ecosystems they invade.

Several imaging spectrometer satellites that represent the most advanced technology, have promise for invasive species mapping are currently under development or planned for later in this decade, e.g., the EnMAP, PRISMA, HISUI, and others. NASA’s proposed HyspIRI imaging spectrometer and multiband thermal imager shows promise to measure and monitor global changes in invasive species at relatively high spatial (30m) and temporal (16 day repeat) scales. The new Landsat 8 and the European Sentinel 2a and 2b satellites provide advanced multispectral imagers with frequent global coverage and weekly repeat cycles, also contribute to the suite of new instrument capabilities for monitoring plant invasions.
Lastly in the near time frame with NASA will fly three instruments on the space station: a LiDAR (GEDI), a multiband thermal imager (EcoSTRESS) and a fluorescence mission (OCO3), which will coincide with EnMAP around 2018.

We seek manuscripts for this Research Topic that demonstrate the current state of the science for detection of invasive species in natural ecosystems, mapping and monitoring invasive plants using these technologies, and for monitoring the spread and persistence of invasions over time. Papers can address these questions using single date or multi-date imagery, and with individual sensors or multisensory approaches. This Topic is important because of the loss of native biodiversity and loss of ecosystem functionality that results from the spread of invasive plants. The problems are local in scale but the cumulative impacts are global. It is impractical to rely on observation at the field scale to control or prevent these invasions and remote sensing technologies are the only practical method to observe and monitor these changes.


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