Image credit: Daniel Coe

We are now accepting article proposals for a new cross-journal Special Feature entitled ‘Active Remote Sensing for Ecology, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation‘, a joint venture by the journals Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology and Journal of Applied Ecology. Here, the Special Feature’s Lead Editors Carlos Alberto Silva & Hooman Latifi explain the idea behind this Special Feature.

Active sources of remote sensing data, in particular Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and Radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR), majorly differ from passive sources by offering data of three-dimensional (3D) character, which help representing the earth terrain, surface and the related structural attributes. Therefore, active remote sensing and the methods developed for its data analysis can support ecosystem inventory and analysis. 

Characterizing tropical forest structure at tree level using
airborne lidar (ALS) data.

The rapid evolution of ecological applications of active remote sensing data during the recent two decades has been mainly thanks to shifting for example from discrete-return point cloud data from airborne LiDAR to currently operational full-waveform aerial and terrestrial scanners at relatively reasonable prices. Furthermore, Synthetic Aperture radar (SAR) data sources have also experienced rapid advancements that makes their modern-days data suitable for retrieving detailed information on both surface topography and vegetation structure. Both former and latter sources of data have found their way in both science and practice in vegetation and wildlife ecology. Along with new space-borne LiDAR and SAR sensors, they are now on their way to be even more operational for spatial upscaling and large scale applications together with other space-borne optical sources of data. In both local and large-scales, active remote sensing data and methods have been mainly leveraged for answering ecological questions via providing information on forest structure, function, and diversity (e.g. Fig. 1). In addition, launching new space-borne sensors has also supported data fusion and assimilation algorithms. A number of well-established ecological applications generally include those dealing with forest management, conservation, and ecological processes as well as wildlife management, but also embrace particular applications like and modelling ecological niches and animal habitats through essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) as proxies.

A newly-established, cross-journal Special Feature of Methods edited by Professors Dr. Carlos A. Silva and Dr. Hooman Latifi aims to attract and finally host a series of innovative publications from multiple disciplines, but with a common focus on the state-of-the-art science and applications of active remote sensing for ecology, biodiversity and conservation. We particularly welcome studies that include multi-source data fusion, upscaling processes from local to regional scales, as well as integrating airborne and space-borne datasets that can advance the applications of several new and upcoming space-borne observations (e.g. NASA’s GEDI, ICESAT-2(ATLAS), NASA/ISRO’s NISAR, ESA’s BIOMASS, JAXA’s MOLI and ALOS-4/PALSAR-3) (Fig. 2). In addition, we welcome Reviews, Perspectives as well as Application papers that go beyond case studies on single ecosystems and biomes. This Special Feature starts with an open call to receive initial proposals by the end of 2021.  After the reviewing of proposals by the guest editorial board, selected authors will be invited to submit their manuscripts, which will then be reviewed for publication in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Ecology and Journal of Applied Ecology

We are thrilled and very much looking forward to receiving proposals from all over the world, since ecology knows no borders…. 


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Examples of active space-borne remote sensing platforms that deliver spatially-explicit data across ecosystems and biomes.

Find out more about what each journal is looking for and submit your proposal here.

If you have any questions, please contact the Special Feature’s Lead Editors:
Dr Carlos Alberto Silva:
Dr Hooman Latifi: