Understanding and assessing vegetation health by in situ species and remote-sensing approaches

Angela Lausch* (Corresponding Author), Olaf Bastian, Stefan Klotz, Pedro J. Leitão, András Jung, Duccio Rocchini, Michael E. Schaepman, A.K. Skidmore, Lutz Tischendorf, Sonja Knapp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Human activities exert stress on and create disturbances to ecosystems, decreasing their diversity, resilience and ultimately the health of ecosystems and their vegetation. In environments with rapid changes in vegetation health (VH), progress is needed when it comes to monitoring these changes and underlying causes. There are different approaches to monitoring VH such as in situ species approaches and the remote-sensing approach. Here we provide an overview of in situ species approaches, that is, the biological, the phylogenetic, and the morphological species concept, as well as an overview of the remote-sensing spectral trait/spectral trait variations concept to monitor the status of VH as well as processes of stress, disturbances, and resource limitations affecting VH. The approaches are compared with regard to their suitability for monitoring VH, and their advantages, disadvantages, potential, and requirements for being linked are discussed. No single approach is sufficient to monitor the complexity and multidimensionality of VH over the short to long term and on local to global scales. Rather, every approach has its pros and cons, making it all the more necessary to link approaches. In this paper, we present a framework and list crucial requirements for coupling approaches and integrating additional monitoring elements to form a multisource vegetation health monitoring network (MUSO-VH-MN). When it comes to linking the different approaches, data, information, models or platforms in a MUSO-VH-MN, big data with its complexity and syntactic and semantic heterogeneity and the lack of standardized approaches and VH protocols pose the greatest challenge. Therefore, Data Science with the elements of (a) digitalization, (b) semantification, (c) ontologization, (d) standardization, (e) Open Science, as well as (f) open and easy analyzing tools for assessing VH are important requirements for monitoring, linking, analyzing, and forecasting complex and multidimensional changes in VH.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberMEE313025
Pages (from-to)1799-1809
Number of pages11
JournalMethods in ecology and evolution
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • biological species concept
  • earth observation
  • morphological species concept
  • multi-source vegetation health monitoring network
  • phylogenetic species concept
  • remote-sensing
  • remote-sensing spectral trait
  • spectral traits variation concept
  • 2023 OA procedure


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