Airborne spectranomics: Mapping canopy chemical and taxonomic diversity in tropical forests

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

306 Scopus citations


Tree canopies play an enormous role in the maintenance of tropical forest diversity and ecosystem function, and are therefore central to conservation, management, and resource policy development in tropical regions. However, high-resolution mapping of tropical forest canopies is very difficult, because traditional field, airborne, and satellite measurements cannot resolve the number of canopy species, or particular species of interest, over the large regional scales commensurate with conservation goals and strategies. Newer technologies, such as imaging spectroscopy and light detection and ranging (lidar), are just now reaching performance levels that will allow monitoring of tropical forest diversity from the air, but the methods for applying these technologies are not yet ready. Here, we present concepts that combine chemical and spectral remote sensing perspectives to facilitate canopy diversity mapping. Using examples from our ongoing work in the Hawaiian Islands, we demonstrate how a new "airborne spectranomics" approach could revolutionize tropical forest monitoring in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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