Abstract

Understandably, given the fast pace of biodiversity loss, there is much interest in using Earth observation technology to track biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services. However, because most biodiversity is invisible to Earth observation, indicators based on Earth observation could be misleading and reduce the effectiveness of nature conservation and even unintentionally decrease conservation effort. We describe an approach that combines automated recording devices, high-throughput DNA sequencing and modern ecological modelling to extract much more of the information available in Earth observation data. This approach is achievable now, offering efficient and near-real-time monitoring of management impacts on biodiversity and its functions and services.

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Acknowledgements

This Perspective is a product of the EO-BESS Working Group, organized by H.B., D.R. and B.C. and funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council. Individual author acknowledgements are in Supplementary Information.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650203 China.

    • Alex Bush
    •  & Douglas W. Yu
  2. Environment Canada, Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, PO Box 4400, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5A3, Canada.

    • Alex Bush
  3. CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601, Australia.

    • Alex Bush
    •  & Simon Ferrier
  4. Department of Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology, 1088 Academic Surge, One Shields Avenue, University of California Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.

    • Rahel Sollmann
  5. Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany.

    • Andreas Wilting
  6. EvoGenomics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.

    • Kristine Bohmann
    •  & M. Thomas P. Gilbert
  7. School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK.

    • Kristine Bohmann
    • , Brent C. Emerson
    •  & Douglas W. Yu
  8. Centre for Landscape and Climate Research and Leicester Institute for Space and Earth Observation (LISEO), University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.

    • Beth Cole
    •  & Heiko Balzter
  9. NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) at University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.

    • Heiko Balzter
  10. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), PO Box 0113 BOCBD, Bogor 16000, Indonesia.

    • Christopher Martius
  11. Balaton Limnological Institute, Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Tihany 8237, Hungary.

    • András Zlinszky
  12. Robert Koch Institut, Berlin 13353, Germany.

    • Sébastien Calvignac-Spencer
    •  & Fabian H. Leendertz
  13. Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.

    • Christina A. Cobbold
    • , Louise Matthews
    •  & Richard Reeve
  14. Department of Geography, King's College London, Strand Campus, London WC2R 2LS, UK.

    • Terence P. Dawson
    • , James D. A. Millington
    •  & Martin J. Wooster
  15. IPNA-CSIC, La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands 38206, Spain.

    • Brent C. Emerson
  16. NTNU University Museum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim 7491, Norway.

    • M. Thomas P. Gilbert
  17. Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

    • Martin Herold
  18. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Road, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK.

    • Laurence Jones
  19. Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119, USA.

    • John R. Olson
  20. Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki FI-00014, Finland.

    • Otso Ovaskainen
  21. Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim 7491, Norway.

    • Otso Ovaskainen
  22. Environment Department, University of York, York YO10 5NG, UK.

    • Dave Raffaelli
    •  & Piran C. L. White
  23. Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, Berlin 10115, Germany.

    • Mark-Oliver Rödel
  24. Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322, USA.

    • Torrey W. Rodgers
  25. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh EH12 7AT, UK.

    • Stewart Snape
  26. Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia 22030, USA.

    • Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers
  27. Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK.

    • Alfried P. Vogler
  28. Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park Campus, Imperial College London, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK.

    • Alfried P. Vogler
  29. NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) at King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK.

    • Martin J. Wooster

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Contributions

B.C. and H.B. led the sections on Earth observation technology. K.B. and D.W.Y. led the sections on biodiversity technology. A.B. led the sections on statistical modelling. A.B., R.S., A.W., O.O., and D.W.Y. led the sections on case studies (Box 3 and ‘From CEOBE to Aichi’). C.M. led the conclusions section. Figures were created by K.B., A.B., C.C. and A.Z. All authors contributed to multiple rewrites, with a large contribution by D.R; A.B. and D.W.Y. wrote the first draft and supervised the work.

Competing interests

D.W.Y. and A.V. are co-founders of a private company that provides commercial metabarcoding services.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Douglas W. Yu.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes 1–4, Supplementary Figure 1, Supplementary Acknowledgements, Supplementary References