Challenges and opportunities in harnessing satellite remote-sensing for biodiversity monitoring

Paola Mairota, Barbara Cafarelli, Raphael K. Didham, Francesco P. Lovergine, Richard M. Lucas, Harini Nagendra, Duccio Rocchini, Cristina Tarantino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (SciVal)


The ability of remote-sensing technologies to rapidly deliver data on habitat quantity (e.g., amount, configuration) and quality (e.g., structure, distribution of individual plant species, habitat types and/or communities, persistence) across a range of spatial resolutions and temporal frequencies is increasingly sought-after in conservation management. However, several problematic issues (e.g., imagery correction and registration, image interpretation, habitat type and quality definitions, assessment and monitoring procedures, uncertainties inherent in mapping, expert knowledge integration, scale selection, analysis of the interrelationships between habitat quality and landscape structure) challenge the effective and reliable use of such data and techniques. We discuss these issues, as a contribution to the development of a common language, framework and suite of research approaches among ecologists, remote-sensing experts and stakeholders (conservation managers) on the ground, and highlight recent theoretical and applied advances that provide opportunities for meeting these challenges. Reconciling differing stakeholder perspectives and needs will boost the timely provisioning of reliable information on the current and changing distribution of biodiversity to enable effective conservation management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Informatics
Early online date05 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • habitat quality
  • imagery correction and registration
  • expert knowledge
  • uncertainties
  • space-time scales
  • context dependence


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