Advances in animal ecology from 3D-LiDAR ecosystem mapping

Andrew B. Davies, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

236 Scopus citations


The advent and recent advances of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) have enabled accurate measurement of 3D ecosystem structure. Here, we review insights gained through the application of LiDAR to animal ecology studies, revealing the fundamental importance of structure for animals. Structural heterogeneity is most conducive to increased animal richness and abundance, and increased complexity of vertical vegetation structure is more positively influential compared with traditionally measured canopy cover, which produces mixed results. However, different taxonomic groups interact with a variety of 3D canopy traits and some groups with 3D topography. To develop a better understanding of animal dynamics, future studies will benefit from considering 3D habitat effects in a wider variety of ecosystems and with more taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-691
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal abundance
  • Remote sensing
  • Species occupancy
  • Species richness
  • Topographic structure
  • Vegetation structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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