Category Archives: Research


Spatial Ecology of Coral Reefs: The Search for Resilience and Resistance to Global Environmental Change


The CAO Coral Reef Challenge

Gregory P. Asner, September 2017

Coral reefs are global hotspots of biological diversity and support the livelihoods of more than a billion people worldwide.  Coral reefs cover roughly 500,000 km2 of the Earth’s surface, but are sparsely distributed over more than 200 million km2 of ocean (Figure 1).  Field studies currently represent less than 0.01% of coral reefs worldwide, and although local monitoring is important, it provides little understanding of the trajectory of coral reefs undergoing regional and global environmental change. Read More

EA cover - Dec 2016

CAO Imagery as Art for Scientific Journals

Media Coverage, Research

Since its inception in 2006, CAO has produced interesting data art for numerous scientific journals. Making the December 2016 cover of Ecological Applications, this image shows CAO’s Visible-to-Shortwave Infrared (VSWIR) imaging spectrometer data over a reforested landscape in Panama. Different colors indicate differences in growth rates among tropical trees.

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CAO Sheds Light on Animal Ecology


Animal assemblages are often viewed as a product of the ecosystems in which they live, but in reality they are often the reason an ecosystem looks the way it does. The roles of animals in shaping ecosystems are so important that two special issues recently published in PNAS and Ecography focus specifically on megafauna (literately translated as ‘large animal’) and the important roles they play in ecosystems, as well as what we may have lost through their extinctions across much of the globe.
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Osa from Plane

Multi-University Team Explores Costa Rica’s Pacific Rainforests Guided by CAO Data


The Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is home to the largest intact lowland tropical forest on the Pacific coastline of the Americas, and is considered a biodiversity mega-hotspot. The forests of the Osa Peninsula contain trees that commonly reach heights of over 50 m, making it one of the highest biomass forests in the Neotropics. The structural complexity and species diversity of the Osa Peninsula has drawn researchers from all over the world, and holds clues to nutrient cycling, evolution and species distribution (to name a few).

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3D Forest-Drought Mapping



California’s forests are undergoing an unprecedented drought unseen in our climate history for more than a thousand years. While much of the attention has (understandably) focused on water use by farmers and citizens, less attention has been given to California’s forests.

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