Place: 4274 Chamberlin Hall (Refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Phil Townsend, UW Department of Forest &Wildlife Ecology
Abstract: Contact and imaging spectroscopy show great promise for measurement of the physiology of ecosystems related both to environmental drivers and genetics. Over the last decade, researchers have demonstrated the use of reflectance spectroscopy to rapidly and accurately characterize features of ecosystems that previously entailed considerable monetary expense and effort, and/or were not thought to be mappable. We have discovered that plant spectra provide a record of plant traits and can be exploited to better understand their function in time and space. Though we do not understand all drivers of variation -- at leaf, canopy and ecosystem levels -- here I will provide evidence that we can infer properties ranging from gene expression to photosynthetic capacity to nutrient availability. For example, we have used spectroscopy to characterize forest response to insect herbivores and to track foliar chemistry as it is related to forest productivity and nutrient availability following logging. In agricultural settings, spectroscopy offers the capacity to measure the physiological effects of pests such as aphids and disease on plant physiology and ultimately yield. In aspen forests, we show how traits and genetics co-vary based on inferences from imaging spectroscopy. The potential future applications of these methods are extensive, and adaptation of spectrometers to deploy in a range of settings will enable us to bridge the gaps in spatial and temporal measurement capacity from the leaf/canopy to airborne to spaceborne levels.