Bjarke Madsen

Nationality: Danish
Partner Institution: Aarhus University
Start and end of PhD project: 01.05.2017 – 30.04.2020
Supervisor: Signe Normand

PhD title: Understanding grassland diversity dynamics using drone-based remote sensing

Link to research group at Aarhus University

Description of research project:
The PhD-project will combine traditional experimental and field-based ecological research with remote sensing from unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) equipped with the most advanced sensors. This will be used to map and monitor the taxonomic, structural, and functional properties of biodiversity, their dynamics and important drivers, such as N enrichment, pathogen abundance, local environmental conditions. and disturbance in grassland plant communities. The overall aim is two-fold: (i) Provide fundamental new insight on the drivers and magnitude of plant diversity dynamics in grasslands, and (ii) develop and test new methods to map, measure, monitor, understand, and predict biodiversity change at an unprecedented spatial resolution and coverage, thus providing the foundation for future up-scaling of ground-based observations to a larger geographical extent. To fulfil these overall objectives the project has been divided into four sub-projects that all address relevant ecological aspects and methodological advancement aimed at providing further understanding of biodiversity patterns. The first three sub-projects focus on the effect of nutrient enrichment and foliar fungal pathogens on the three components of biodiversity (taxonomy, structure and functionality) under an experimental set up (all else being equal), while the fourth project assesses the same questions in a natural grassland with variation in local environmental conditions and disturbance regime.