Community Ecology

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 37–43 | Cite as

Disentangling the role of remotely sensed spectral heterogeneity as a proxy for North American plant species richness

  • D. RocchiniEmail author
  • L. Dadalt
  • L. Delucchi
  • M. Neteler
  • M. W. Palmer


Due to the difficulties of field-based species data collection at wide spatial scales, remotely sensed spectral diversity has been advocated as one of the most effective proxies of ecosystem and species diversity. It is widely accepted that the relationship between species and spectral diversity is scale dependent. However, few studies have evaluated the impacts of scale on species diversity estimates from remote sensing data. In this paper we tested the species versus spectral relationship over very large scales (extents) with a varying spatial grain using floristic data of North America. Spectral diversity explained a low amount of variance while spatial extent of the sampling units (floras) explained a high amount of variance based on results from our variance partitioning analyses. This leads to the conclusion that spectral diversity must be carefully related to species diversity, explicitly taking into account potential area effects.


Area effects Species diversity Spectral variation hypothesis Variance partitioning. 



Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer


Normalized Difference Vegetation Index


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2014

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Rocchini
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Dadalt
    • 2
  • L. Delucchi
    • 1
  • M. Neteler
    • 1
  • M. W. Palmer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity and Molecular Ecology, GIS and Remote Sensing UnitFondazione Edmund Mach, Research and Innovation CentreS. Michele all’Adige (TN)Italy
  2. 2.Department of BotanyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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