Our mission is to leverage Earth Observation for monitoring and protecting genetic diversity.

One-page summary

Earth’s biodiversity is declining into a sixth mass extinction. International monitoring efforts attempt to quantify this decline and facilitate accountability measures for mitigation. A growing set of essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) enables comparable, interpretable and actionable monitoring data, but monitoring is still limited by observation and sampling effort. Earth observation (EO) can lift that limit by providing repeated, potentially global observations independently of, or extrapolating from in situ sampling.

Sampling effort is especially limiting for EBVs on genetic diversity, which support assessments of species’ potential to adapt to global change based on genetic sequence variation, and are important for preventing extinctions and designing effective conservation measures. Recently adopted indicators for genetic diversity focus on the targeted and effective use of genetic sequence data supported by proxies of sequence diversity which can be more rapidly and frequently monitored, and may be more directly translated into policy. Now is the time to incorporate important aspects of genetic diversity which can be obtained more easily, or solely, using EO.

We bring together a unique group of experts on EO for biodiversity including satellite and aerial observation, integration of EO into EBV workflows, linking EO data to genetic variation, genetic EBV development, genetic diversity assessment, and linking genetic diversity to policy. We will estimate the impact of timely EO integration into genetic EBVs on protection of genetic diversity and the services it provides, and disseminate this information to the scientific community, policymakers, and the public. We will propose specific workflows to integrate EO data into genetic EBVs and the inferences they support about biodiversity and conservation, and demonstrate these using existing datasets from team members and public sources. We will present our results to key organizations to place them into the science-policy integration workflow.