Etienne Laliberté

Université de Montréal
The Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory

The broad extent and rapid rate at which biodiversity changes occur outpace our ability to study them through field-based sampling alone. Spectranomics is a novel approach that moves remote sensing into the biodiversity science arena. It relies on aircraft-mounted hyperspectral sensors to capture high-resolution images of entire canopies, from which individual plants are identified to species by their unique foliar reflectance spectral signatures –or ‘barcodes’– in the visible (VIS) to short-wave infrared (SWIR) range (400–2500 nm). Spectranomics yields plant biodiversity data approaching the high resolution of ground-based approaches, but over considerably larger geographical extents. In this talk, I will introduce The Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory (CABO). CABO uses spectranomics to determine how plant biodiversity in selected ecosystems across Canada is responding to major environmental changes : climate change, land-use change, invasive species and atmospheric pollution. I will present CABO’s research objectives, the field sites, the team, and how we operate in the field through examples from our first field season. Finally, I will present what CABO’s main deliverables to the scientific community will be.