Mapping tropical forest canopy diversity using high-fidelity imaging spectroscopy

Jean Baptiste Féret, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


There is a growing need for operational biodiversity mapping methods to quantify and to assess the impact of climate change, habitat alteration, and human activity on ecosystem composition and function. Here, we present an original method for the estimation of a- and b-diversity of tropical forests based on high-fidelity imaging spectroscopy. We acquired imagery over high-diversity Amazonian tropical forest landscapes in Peru with the Carnegie Airborne Observatory and developed an unsupervised method to estimate the Shannon index (H0) and variations in species composition using Bray-Curtis dissimilarity (BC) and nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). An extensive field plot network was used for the validation of remotely sensed a- and b-diversity. Airborne maps of H0 were highly correlated with field a-diversity estimates (r λ 0.86), and BC was estimated with demonstrable accuracy (r λ 0.61-0.76). Our findings are the first direct and spatially explicit remotely sensed estimates of α- and β-diversity of humid tropical forests, paving the way for new applications using airborne and space-based imaging spectroscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1296
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpha diversity
  • Amazon basin
  • Beta diversity
  • Bray-Curtis dissimilarity
  • Canopy diversity
  • Carnegie airborne observatory
  • Hyperspectral remote sensing
  • Shannon index
  • Spectral species distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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