High-Resolution Remote Sensing Data as a Boundary Object to Facilitate Interdisciplinary Collaboration

  • T. Trevor CaughlinEmail author
  • Sarah J. Graves
  • Gregory P. Asner
  • Bryan C. Tarbox
  • Stephanie A. Bohlman


Native forest regrowth in degraded tropical landscapes is critical for biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, and human livelihoods. However, social and ecological drivers of reforestation have primarily been studied in separate disciplinary frameworks and at different spatial scales. In southwestern Panama, we found that scale mismatches between satellite data used to study land cover change, forest inventory plots used to study ecological dynamics, and household survey data used to study farmer behavior were a major impediment to our research goals. We overcame the challenges posed by scale mismatches by applying high-resolution remote sensing data to facilitate interdisciplinary research. We describe how our data sources enabled us to scale up ecological field data, present our research to stakeholders, and resolve discrepancies between data at different scales. High-resolution imagery can thus facilitate boundary crossing via cross-scale research on coupled natural-human systems.



Funding for the social-ecological research was provided by the National Science Foundation under grant #1415297 in the SBE program. The CAO has been made possible by grants and donations to G.P. Asner from the Avatar Alliance Foundation, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, W. M. Keck Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Mary Anne Nyburg Baker and G. Leonard Baker Jr, and William R. Hearst III.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Trevor Caughlin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah J. Graves
    • 2
  • Gregory P. Asner
    • 3
  • Bryan C. Tarbox
    • 4
  • Stephanie A. Bohlman
    • 5
  1. 1.Boise State UniversityBoiseUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Carnegie Institution for ScienceStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Texas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  5. 5.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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