Monitoring global biodiversity from space through remotely sensing geospatial patterns has high potential to add to our knowledge acquired by field observation. Although a framework of essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) is emerging for monitoring biodiversity, its poor alignment with remote sensing products hinders interpolation between field observations. This study compiles a comprehensive, prioritized list of remote sensing biodiversity products that can further improve the monitoring of geospatial biodiversity patterns, enhancing the EBV framework and its applicability. The ecosystem structure and ecosystem function EBV classes, which capture the biological effects of disturbance as well as habitat structure, are shown by an expert review process to be the most relevant, feasible, accurate and mature for direct monitoring of biodiversity from satellites. Biodiversity products that require satellite remote sensing of a finer resolution that is still under development are given lower priority (for example, for the EBV class species traits). Some EBVs are not directly measurable by remote sensing from space, specifically the EBV class genetic composition. Linking remote sensing products to EBVs will accelerate product generation, improving reporting on the state of biodiversity from local to global scales.
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This project has received support from the European Space Agency GlobDiversity project, the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement 834709), the NextGEOSS project (grant agreement 730329, H2020-EU.3.5.5) and e-Shape (grant agreement 820852, H2020-EU.3.5.5). The project workshops were supported by the GEO BON Secretariat at iDiv (DFG-FZT 118, project 202548816) (Leipzig, Germany), the European Space Agency (Frascati, Italy) and the University of Twente (Enschede, the Netherlands). W.D.K. acknowledges financial support from the Faculty of Science, Research Cluster Global Ecology, University of Amsterdam. F.E.M.-K. received support from NASA grants NNX14AP62A, 80NSSC20K0017 and NA19NOS0120199. The contribution of M.E.S. is supported by the UZH URPP GCB. P.V. acknowledges the IBC-Carbon Project funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland (grant number 312559) and the Finnish Ecosystem Observatory.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Ecology & Evolution thanks Jeannine Cavender-Bares and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Skidmore, A.K., Coops, N.C., Neinavaz, E. et al. Priority list of biodiversity metrics to observe from space. Nat Ecol Evol 5, 896–906 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01451-x
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