Assessing world biodiversity with ears to the bottom, NASA eyes within the sky

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University professor Bryan Pijanowski’s analysis crew will likely be working in some wild and distant locations across the globe within the coming yr.

Pijanowski’s sound-source surveyors will likely be geared up with microphones, headphones and parabolic reflectors to effectively acquire sound waves from the pure world. Their instruments additionally embrace low-flying drones and sensors mounted on orbiting satellites and the International Space Station.  

The Purdue crew is using these assets to develop a world mannequin of animal and plant variety and the way it adjustments. They may even entry Purdue’s two crown jewels of world biodiversity databases. One is the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative, a database that holds tree species inventories from greater than one million plots of land. The different database, on the Center for Global Soundscapes, accommodates greater than 4 million audio recordings from most ecosystems on Earth.

“We’re utilizing acoustic distant sensing to develop the animal biodiversity mannequin,” stated Pijanowski, heart director and professor within the College of Agriculture’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. He has, for instance, maintained an acoustic sensor within the wetlands of the Purdue Wildlife Area since 2007. And from the Southeast Asian island of Borneo alone, he has greater than 25,00 recordings that embrace sounds from 3,000 animal species.

NASA Tippecanoe Soundscapes examine area crew within the lab’s basic “Are you listening?” pose. Shown (from left) are Gabby Krochmal, Francisco Rivas Fuenzalida, Aubrey Franks, Ruth Bowers-Sword, Samantha Lima, Bryan Pijanowski, Jinha Jung, David Savage and Jingjing Liang. (Purdue University photograph/Tom Campbell)
Download picture

The extremely transdisciplinary work requires experience in ecology, social sciences, engineering, statistics and the humanities. Project co-leads embrace Purdue’s Kristen Bellisario, medical assistant professor within the John Martinson Honors College; Jinha Jung, assistant professor within the Lyles School of Civil Engineering; and Jingjing Liang, affiliate professor of forestry and pure assets.

The NASA challenge particularly focuses on creating plant-animal variety fashions for 4 several types of forested ecosystems. The work begins within the deciduous forests of close by Tippecanoe County in Indiana. Pijanowski’s crew makes use of the world as its “sandbox,” the place they go for analysis coaching and protocol improvement. The different three websites are situated in Tanzania’s Miombo Woodlands, Mongolia’s savanna and forest-steppe ecosystems, and the mangroves of the Sundarbans UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bangladesh.

“The Miombo Woodlands is without doubt one of the largest forest ecosystems on the earth,” Pijanowski stated. “The Sundarbans is the placement of one of the pristine mangrove websites on the earth. Mangroves and estuaries are underneath nice menace from climate change because of rising sea ranges. And Mongolia represents a mix of coniferous forests and grasslands, that are additionally threatened from climate change.”

The challenge will prolong the biodiversity fashions of all 4 ecosystems to different long-term research in Borneo, Southeast Asia; Costa Rica, the Caribbean; Finland, northern Europe; and Patagonia, South America.

The Purdue crew’s a number of data-collection platforms embrace three experimental sensors onboard the International Space Station.

“These are experimental sensors to map and create plant habitat fashions that we then calibrate with all of the measurements we’re making on the bottom and with unmanned aerial autos,” Pijanowski stated.

The house station’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) makes use of gentle detection and ranging (LiDAR). The DLS (German Aerospace Center) Earth-Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS) is a hyperspectral sensor that detects species composition and variety spanning electromagnetic frequencies from seen gentle to infrared. And ECOSTRESS, a thermal sensor, detects the drought stress situation of crops.

Two satellite tv for pc programs complement the house station sensors. These are the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Landsat, which detect fires in Tanzania that have an effect on the habitat of chimpanzees, bush infants, monkeys and baboons.

With these three house station sensors, the crew gleans information on a habitat’s structural complexity, species variety and stress, which mesh with the worldwide tree dataset.

Drones flying 80 meters above the bottom present high-resolution information (1-centimeter pixels) that permit the researchers to calibrate with the house station information. The crew additionally conducts plant surveys at every location.

Jinha Jung and his geospatial information science group deal with calibrations and linkages amongst ground-based, airborne and spaceborne information.

“We want to have the ability to relate the pictures we get to particular places that Bryan is visiting and recording sound to quantify biodiversity,” Jung stated. “We can generate very high-resolution 3D fashions of these places.”

One job of Jung’s group is to fill the gaps within the house station’s LiDAR protection. Orbiting at a median altitude of about 400 kilometers (practically 250 miles) and shifting at 17,500 miles per hour, the house station bounces the GEDI laser beam off the Earth’s floor at intervals of about 70 meters.

Jung’s group additionally will create 3D fashions of all of the NASA biodiversity area websites and make the 3D fashions out there on the challenge web site. The fashions will permit customers to level and click on on a web site, zoom in and rotate the view in three dimensions.

“We’re going to embed recordings so guests can visualize the location in 3D, however they’ll additionally hear the sound, nearly really feel like they’re truly there,” Jung stated.

The NASA biodiversity challenge is a part of Pijanowski’s mission to report the Earth. His web site connects to his whole database of world biomes, the varied pure habitats the place crops and animals make their residence.

“People can take a look at all of our websites within the maps of places the place we’ve got research,” he stated. “We describe all of the biomes, all of the completely different research, the threats to the biomes. We have a photograph catalog of all of the websites and movies speaking in regards to the websites and what we’re doing there as scientists in motion. Ultimately, we are attempting to make use of the easiest know-how to resolve a few of society’s grand challenges of species loss and climate change. Being supported by NASA makes this particularly a part of being a Boilermaker; Purdue is the cradle of astronauts. Perhaps, with NASA’s assist, we would be the cradle of fixing world biodiversity challenges.”

Writer: Steve Koppes
Source: Bryan Pijanowski,
Media contact: Maureen Manier,

Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Department Head,

Agriculture News Page