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Monitoring Dimensions of Biodiversity in a Mega-Diverse Region of Southern Africa: from Traits to Communities to Ecosystems
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  • Adam Wilson,
  • Jasper Slingsby,
  • John Silander,
  • Cory Merow,
  • Henry Frye
Adam Wilson
University at Buffalo

Corresponding Author:adamw@buffalo.edu

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Jasper Slingsby
South African Environmental Observation Network
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John Silander
University of Connecticut
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Cory Merow
Yale University
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Henry Frye
University of Connecticut
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The Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) of South Africa includes marine and terrestrial biomes with species diversity rivaling mega-diverse tropical rainforests in a compact area (300x700km). Extinction risk studies suggest that GCFR species are among the most vulnerable to climate change over the next 50 years. I present a scoping proposal commissioned by NASA to develop a field campaign to measure and monitor the distribution and abundance of biodiversity with new remotely-sensed data and the rich historical data in this region. I will summarize the central questions to be addressed by this field campaign and lay out the proposed study design to integrate satellite, airborne, and in situ data collection. Our plan centers around the collection of new hyperspectral imagery from AVIRIS-NG, PRISM, and HyTES spectrometers combined with the LVIS laser altimeter. These data will be collected at approximately 20 m spatial resolution across much of the GCFR and nearby aquatic and marine ecosystems. These data will then be combined with existing and new observations of the spatial distribution of community composition and functional traits to enable high resolution mapping and modeling of several essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) including species distributions, functional traits (including leaf properties), and three-dimensional canopy structure. Given the wealth of available independent in situ data available that can be brought to bear, the GCFR is an ideal system to fully evaluate the capabilities of remote-sensing technology to characterize biodiversity patterns across diverse landscapes in a relatively compact geographic area. In combination with the rich historical data and well-developed ecological understanding in this region, these new observations will enable detailed exploration into the drivers and mechanisms of change including the feedbacks from changing biodiversity to regional climate, disturbance, post-fire recovery, freshwater provisioning, and other ecosystem services.