New Partner Project: SEnsing Biodiversity Across Scales (SEBAS)

In the past decades, most grassland ecosystems in Central Europe were transformed by higher fertilization rates in combination with increased frequencies of mowing or grazing. While this land-use intensification improved the delivery of the Ecosystem Service (ES) of forage, it has in many cases decreased biodiversity and the delivery of other ESs. In this context, there is an urgent need for a more mechanistic understanding of land-use effects on the biodiversity – ecosystem functioning (BEF) and the biodiversity-ecosystem service (BES) relationship. Due to inherent spatial mismatches between ecological processes and management units in coupled social-ecological systems, though, this is a challenging task. The new project SEBAS aims at improving this mechanistic understanding by integrating site-based ecological research on land-use intensity and six ‘essential biodiversity variables’ (EBVs) with satellite Remote Sensing of these proxies.

“SEnsing Biodiversity Across Scales (SEBAS)” in DFG Priority Programme 1374 – “Biodiversity Exploratories” was raised by PD Dr. Olena Dubovyk (Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL), Department of Geography, University of Bonn) and PD Dr. Anja Linstädter (Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES), University of Bonn). Due to its thematic relevance, SEBAS is also a partner project of the Cluster of Excellence PhenoRob.

PD Dr. Olena Dubovyk (Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL), Department of Geography, University of Bonn) and PD Dr. Anja Linstädter (Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES), University of Bonn)

SEBAS will specifically explore linkages between functional and structural diversity and the ecosystem service of forage production, focusing on observation units relevant for decisions-making, i.e. meadows/pastures, farms, and landscapes. The scientists hypothesize that (i) the five EBVs as affected by different land-use intensities could be derived at multiple spatial scales using multi-modal satellite image time series data calibrated and validated with existing and newly collected data on land-use intensity and EBVs; and that (ii) land-use effects on BEF/BES relationships will vary across spatial scales, with functional and structural diversity playing a key role for the supply and temporal stability of forage production.

The output of the project will be a set of spatially explicit satellite and unmanned aerial vehicle based EBVs products, as well as novel methodologies relying on a number of multi-scale and multi-modal Remote Sensing datasets (PlanetScope, RapidEye, Sentinel 1/2, Landsat and MODIS) and novel machine learning and hybrid models. Via space-for-time substitutions for climate change and land-use change, the project will also address interactive effects of these two main drivers of global change on the BEF/BES relationship. SEBAS will formalize drivers’ direct and indirect (biodiversity-mediated) effects on forage production through a social-ecological systems approach, and quantify them via structural equation models to foster a deeper understanding of ecosystem functioning and ES supply in Central European grasslands.