Anthropogenic stress and disturbance of forest ecosystems (FES) has been increasing at all scales from local to global. In rapidly changing environments, in-situ terrestrial FES monitoring approaches have made tremendous progress but they are intensive and often integrate subjective indicators for forest health (FH). Remote sensing (RS) bridges the gaps of these limitations, by monitoring indicators of FH on different spatio-temporal scales, and in a cost-effective, rapid, repetitive and objective manner. In this paper, we provide an overview of the definitions of FH, discussing the drivers, processes, stress and adaptation mechanisms of forest plants, and how we can observe FH with RS. We introduce the concept of spectral traits (ST) and spectral trait variations (STV) in the context of FH monitoring and discuss the prospects, limitations and constraints. Stress, disturbances and resource limitations can cause changes in FES taxonomic, structural and functional diversity; we provide examples how the ST/STV approach can be used for monitoring these FES characteristics. We show that RS based assessments of FH indicators using the ST/STV approach is a competent, affordable, repetitive and objective technique for monitoring. Even though the possibilities for observing the taxonomic diversity of animal species is limited with RS, the taxonomy of forest tree species can be recorded with RS, even though its accuracy is subject to certain constraints. RS has proved successful for monitoring the impacts from stress on structural and functional diversity. In particular, it has proven to be very suitable for recording the short-term dynamics of stress on FH, which cannot be cost-effectively recorded using in-situ methods. This paper gives an overview of the ST/STV approach, whereas the second paper of this series concentrates on discussing in-situ terrestrial monitoring, in-situ RS approaches and RS sensors and techniques for measuring ST/STV for FH.
Stress in forest ecosystems (FES) occurs as a result of land-use intensification, disturbances, resource limitations or unsustainable management, causing changes in forest health (FH) at various scales from the local to the global scale. Reactions to such stress depend on the phylogeny of forest species or communities and the characteristics of their impacting drivers and processes. There are many approaches to monitor indicators of FH using in-situ forest inventory and experimental studies, but they are generally limited to sample points or small areas, as well as being time-and labour-intensive. Long-term monitoring based on forest inventories provides valuable information about changes and trends of FH. However, abrupt short-term changes cannot sufficiently be assessed through in-situ forest inventories as they usually have repetition periods of multiple years. Furthermore, numerous FH indicators monitored in in-situ surveys are based on expert judgement. Remote sensing (RS) technologies offer means to monitor FH indicators in an effective, repetitive and comparative way. This paper reviews techniques that are currently used for monitoring, including close-range RS, airborne and satellite approaches. The implementation of optical, RADAR and LiDAR RS-techniques to assess spectral traits/spectral trait variations (ST/STV) is described in detail. We found that ST/STV can be used to record indicators of FH based on RS. Therefore, the ST/STV approach provides a framework to develop a standardized monitoring concept for FH indicators using RS techniques that is applicable to future monitoring programs. It is only through linking in-situ and RS approaches that we will be able to improve our understanding of the relationship between stressors, and the associated spectral responses in order to develop robust FH indicators.
Recent progress in remote sensing provides much-needed, large-scale spatio-temporal information on habitat structures important for biodiversity conservation. Here we examine the potential of a newly launched satellite-borne radar system (Sentinel-1) to map the biodiversity of twelve taxa across five temperate forest regions in central Europe. We show that the sensitivity of radar to habitat structure is similar to that of airborne laser scanning (ALS), the current gold standard in the measurement of forest structure. Our models of different facets of biodiversity reveal that radar performs as well as ALS; median R² over twelve taxa by ALS and radar are 0.51 and 0.57 respectively for the first non-metric multidimensional scaling axes representing assemblage composition. We further demonstrate the promising predictive ability of radar-derived data with external validation based on the species composition of birds and saproxylic beetles. Establishing new area-wide biodiversity monitoring by remote sensing will require the coupling of radar data to stratified and standardized collected local species data.
Terrestrial ecosystems in northern high latitudes exchange large amounts of methane (CH 4 ) with the atmosphere. Climate warming could have a great impact on CH 4 exchange, in particular in regions where degradation of permafrost is induced. In order to improve the understanding of the present and future methane dynamics in permafrost regions, we studied CH 4 fluxes of typical landscape structures in a small catchment in the forest tundra ecotone in northern Siberia. Gas fluxes were measured using a closedchamber technique from on tree-covered mineral soils with and without permafrost, on a frozen bog plateau, and on a thermokarst pond. For areal integration of the CH 4 fluxes, we combined field observations and classification of functional landscape structures based on a high-resolution Quickbird satellite image. All mineral soils were net sinks of atmospheric CH 4 . The magnitude of annual CH 4 uptake was higher for soils without permafrost (1.19 kg CH 4 ha À1 yr À1 ) than for soils with permafrost (0.37 kg CH 4 ha À1 yr À1 ). In welldrained soils, significant CH 4 uptake occurred even after the onset of ground frost. Bog plateaux, which stored large amounts of frozen organic carbon, were also a net sink of atmospheric CH 4 (0.38 kg CH 4 ha À1 yr À1 ). Thermokarst ponds, which developed from permafrost collapse in bog plateaux, were hot spots of CH 4 emission (approximately 200 kg CH 4 ha À1 yr À1 ). Despite the low area coverage of thermokarst ponds (only 2.1% of the total catchment area), emissions from these sites resulted in a mean catchment CH 4 emission of 3.8 kg CH 4 ha À1 yr À1 . Export of dissolved CH 4 with stream water was insignificant. The results suggest that mineral soils and bog plateaux in this region will respond differently to increasing temperatures and associated permafrost degradation. Net uptake of atmospheric CH 4 in mineral soils is expected to gradually increase with increasing active layer depth and soil drainage. Changes in bog plateaux will probably be much more rapid and drastic. Permafrost collapse in frozen bog plateaux would result in high CH 4 emissions that act as positive feedback to climate warming.
The habitat-heterogeneity hypothesis predicts that biodiversity increases with increasing habitat heterogeneity due to greater niche dimensionality. However, recent studies have reported that richness can decrease with high heterogeneity due to stochastic extinctions, creating trade-offs between area and heterogeneity. This suggests that greater complexity in heterogeneity-diversity relationships (HDRs) may exist, with potential for group-specific responses to different facets of heterogeneity that may only be partitioned out by a simultaneous test of HDRs of several species groups and several facets of heterogeneity. Here, we systematically decompose habitat heterogeneity into six major facets on ~500 temperate forest plots across Germany and quantify biodiversity of 12 different species groups, including bats, birds, arthropods, fungi, lichens and plants, representing 2600 species. Heterogeneity in horizontal and vertical forest structure underpinned most HDRs, followed by plant diversity, deadwood and topographic heterogeneity, but the relative importance varied even within the same trophic level. Among significant HDRs, 53% increased monotonically, consistent with the classical habitat-heterogeneity hypothesis, but 21% were humped-shaped, 25% had a monotonically decreasing slope and 1% showed no clear pattern. Overall, we found no evidence of a single generalizable mechanism determining HDR patterns.
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