Spatial ecology and remote sensing

Spatial Ecology and Remote Sensing

Solar radiation and its partitioning in vegetation canopies is an important factor influencing ecosystem processes such as decomposition, plant growth, species competition, and succession. On the other hand the land surface-atmosphere interaction, including fluxes of carbon, energy, and water, is highly depending on the vegetation type. Our aim is to develop, map and apply continuous vegetation variables (e.g. albedo, leaf area index, plant functional type fractional cover) and landscape proxies relevant to ecosystem and climate processes (e.g. vegetation successional development and biodiversity, energy partitioning, methane emissions), as eventual input to ecosystem and climate models. We use spectro-directional remote sensing data from leaf to ecosystem scale, integrating field observations (spectral reflectance, species composition, leaf area index) to satellite imagery. Our current focus lies on the Siberian Arctic tundra, including permafrost, and peatland ecosystems. To improve the quality of the satellite-inferred variables, we are contributing to international efforts on the definition and validation of reflectance and land surface albedo products.

Recent Publications

  • Terrestrial land-cover type richness is positively linked to landscape-level functioning
    Oehri, Jacqueline; Schmid, Bernhard; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela; Niklaus, Pascal A.
    Nature Communications 11(1), Article Number: 154, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14002-7, JAN 9 2020
  • Impacts of the 2014-2017 global bleaching event on a protected remote atoll in the Western Indian Ocean
    Cerutti, Julia M. B.; Burt, April J.; Haupt, Philip; Bunbury, Nancy; Mumby, Peter J.; et al.
    Coral Reefs 39(1): 15-26, DOI: 10.1007/s00338-019-01853-1, FEB 2020
  • Extensive fires in southeastern Siberian permafrost linked to preceding Arctic Oscillation
    Kim, Jin-Soo; Kug, Jong-Seong; Jeong, Su-Jong; Park, Hotaek; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela
    Science Advances 6(2), Article Number: eaax3308, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax3308, JAN 2020
  • Complexity revealed in the greening of the Arctic
    Myers-Smith, Isla H.; Kerby, Jeffrey T.; Phoenix, Gareth K.; Bjerke, Jarle W.; Epstein, Howard E.; et al.
    Nature Climate Change  10(2): 106-117, DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0688-1, FEB 2020
  • An Overview of Global Leaf Area Index (LAI): Methods, Products, Validation, and Applications
    Fang, Hongliang; Baret, Frederic; Plummer, Stephen; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela
    Reviews Of Geophysics,  DOI: 10.1029/2018RG000608
  • In the land of giants: habitat use and selection of the Aldabra giant tortoise on Aldabra Atoll
    Walton, R; Baxter, R; Bunbury, N; Hansen, D; Fleischer-Dogley, F; Greenwood, S; Schaepman-Strub, G
    BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, 28 (12):3183-3198; 10.1007/s10531-019-01813-9 OCT 2019
  • Traditional plant functional groups explain variation in economic but not size-related traits across the tundra biome
    Thomas, HJD; Myers-Smith, IH; Bjorkman, AD; Elmendorf, SC; Blok, D; Cornelissen, JHC; Forbes, BC; Hollister, RD; Normand, S; Prevey, JS; Rixen, C; Schaepman-Strub, G; Wilmking, M; Wipf, S; Cornwell, WK; Kattge, J; Goetz, SJ; Guay, KC; Alatalo, JM; Anadon-Rosell, A; Angers-Blondin, S; Berner, LT; Bjork, RG; Buchwal, A; Buras, A; Carbognani, M; Christie, K; Collier, LS; Cooper, EJ; Eskelinen, A; Frei, ER; Grau, O; Grogan, P; Hallinger, M; Heijmans, MMPD; Hermanutz, L; Hudson, JMG; Hulber, K; Iturrate-Garcia, M; Iversen, CM; Jaroszynska, F; Johnstone, JF; Kaarlejarvi, E; Kulonen, A; Lamarque, LJ; Levesque, E; Little, CJ; Michelsen, A; Milbau, A; Nabe-Nielsen, J; Nielsen, SS; Ninot, JM; Oberbauer, SF; Olofsson, J; Onipchenko, VG; Petraglia, A; Rumpf, SB; Semenchuk, PR; Soudzilovskaia, NA; Spasojevic, MJ; Speed, JDM; Tape, KD; te Beest, M; Tomaselli, M; Trant, A; Treier, UA; Venn, S; Vowles, T; Weijers, S; Zamin, T; Atkin, OK; Bahn, M; Blonder, B; Campetella, G; Cerabolini, BEL; Chapin, FS; Dainese, M; de Vries, FT; Diaz, S; Green, W; Jackson, RB; Manning, P; Niinemets, U; Ozinga, WA; Penuelas, J; Reich, PB; Schamp, B; Sheremetev, S; van Bodegom, PM
    GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY, 28 (2):78-95; 10.1111/geb.12783 JAN 2019
Gabriela Schaepman-Strub

Prof. Dr. Gabriela Schaepman-Strub
University of Zurich
Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
8008 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 635 48 06

Research topics

  • Remote sensing of vegetation
  • Energy fluxes in tundra ecosystems and peatlands
  • Arctic climate change
  • Radiation-vegetation interaction
  • Land surface albedo
  • Reflectance and albedo definitions



  • Climate modelling
  • Carbon cycle
  • Vegetation successional development
  • Peatland ecosystem processes