Bioresource mapping in the Microsensor Age

David Gallacher, Zayed University,

Felix Herzog, Agroscope,


Ecological study is reliant on spatiotemporal scale.  The ecologists’ toolbox now includes drones (UASs), mobile (GPS trackers) and fixed sensors (IoT), and an ever-increasing resolution of aerial photographs.  How can these tools help us view landscapes through the ‘eyes’ of studied species? This symposium will explore new opportunities for mapping and monitoring biological resources. Case studies and methodological contributions that explore individual plant / animal species, plant phenological stages (e.g.; flowering), or micro-habitats (e.g.; locations suitable for nesting) are welcomed.


Habitat mapping has become a routine procedure in landscape ecology. Habitats are usually mapped based on the underlying plant communities and/or life forms of plants. In so doing, we implicitly assume that the users of the landscape prefer certain habitats more than others and that the habitat map will explain the occurrence and movement of animals or humans.

Habitat maps are created from the perspective of the landscape ecologist, but users of the landscape might have other perspectives:

  • Insects may require specific flower resources, nesting sites, or microhabitats for overwintering;
  • Herbivores may require specific plants or plant structures for food or protection for themselves and/or their offspring
  • Carnivores might favour specific combinations of habitats for hunting and to raise offspring;
  • Plant populations and their phenological timings may change with geology, topography, and also with plants of the same or other species
  • Human requirements are dependent on their intended use of space, whether it be for economic exploitation or for recreation.

Visualising the landscape from the perspective of a single species requires resource mapping at the relevant scale in space and time.  Space, to understand location choices, and time, to understand changes through seasons within a year. Habitat maps may be too static to reflect location choices, but resource maps might better represent the landscape as it is perceived by individuals of a species.

The symposium objective will be to discuss the creation of bioresource maps and their application to both ecological understanding and landscape management.  Mapped bioresources could include:

  • Flowers
  • Landscape feature (e.g. nesting opportunities)
  • Individual plants of a species
  • Odour

There is an increasing number of tools in the ecologists’ toolbox.  Ground observations are still essential to verify sensing technologies and understand the detail.  Aerial and satellite data is becoming ever-finer and more affordable, but is still out of range to many.  New tools include
UASs (drones), GPS trackers (mobile sensors), and IoT (fixed sensors).

Contributions are welcome on any aspect of resource mapping:

  • Case studies of species, tool comparisons, choice of scale
  • Comparison of resource maps to classical habitat maps
  • Expanding the toolbox – Suggestions for and trials of hardware and software (e.g. remote sensing, drone imagery, sensors and cameras)

What can participants expect to learn?

  • Advantages and drawbacks of new technical tools for mapping of bioresources (e.g. drones with cameras or other sensors)
  • Examples of successful bioresource mapping experiences – and examples of failures
  • Comparisons of bioresource mapping with conventional habitat mapping


The symposium conveners will produce a review article based on the submissions, with intent to publish in Landscape Ecology.  The desired impacts are to

  • clarify the range and usefulness of technologies that can now be used for bioresource mapping
  • to promote the usefulness of these maps over habitat maps
  • develop a community of interested researchers and practitioners around bioresource mapping.