Last week Steven Hill and Thorsten Dahms gave a course that introduced EAGLE students to Python-based spatial data analysis. The advantages and challenges of different python libraries, data sets and methods were covered in hands-on exercises and also discussed critically with the students. Steven and Thorsten greatly appreciated the discussions with EAGLE students about the similarities and differences between Python and R. In addition to the informative lectures and presentations of the students, the practical application of remote sensing data in Python was also part of this course. The course covered everything from the basic introduction to Python to remote sensing applications such as classification.
The Bavarian Forest and the Bohemian Forest together form the largest contiguous forest area in central Europe, which is of an extraordinary importance for the protection and maintenance of biological diversity. Since 1970, a large area of the forest is protected as a National Park, in which “nature can be nature”. Bark beetle outbreaks control large forest areas, lynx and wolves roam the forest, and carrion beetles consume the remains of dead vertebrates. Therefore, the national park it is one of the few places, where scientist can study natural processes and their impacts.
The national park was also the destination of this winter´s course in Forest Ecology offered by Prof. Dr. Jörg Müller, Professor for Animal Ecology at the University of Würzburg and Deputy Head of the Bavarian Forest National Park. The research of Prof. Dr. Müller links field observations and ecological questions with remote sensing to understand species habitat requirements and assemblages at larger spatial scales. The project work during the course also combined field work and spatial analysis using high resolution LIDAR data.
For the field work, 24 plots in the forest were set up along a gradient of different bark beetle infestation intensities. The projects goal was the assessment of the ecological and monetary value of these different forest areas, which involved the mapping of birds and mammals, the characterization of the plots including the wood-value per plot and the student´s personal aesthetic assessment via questionnaires. Using snow-shoes, the students visited and assessed the plots and experts with experience in ornithology and the identification of animal tracks were helping along the way.
The results indicate a shrinking aesthetic value and a decreased willingness-to-pay for forest areas with higher percentages of dead-wood. Using the LIDAR data, individual trees were recognized and the total wood-value per plot was calculated. The evaluation of this dataset showed that the wood-value per plot was positively correlated with the treetop coverage. Because of a thick snow-cover within the national park, only a few bird species could be mapped and statements on their habitat preference were therefore not possible. However, the abundance of oldcrests (Regulus regulus) and coal tits (Parus ater) was positively correlated with an increasing percentage of coniferous wood in the forest areas. Even though, the students were not able to statistically prove the importance of dead wood as a landscape component, mainly because of the low abundance of winter birds, the pure presence of rare bird species like the three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) indicates the high ecological value of the bark-beetle areas in the park.
Beside the interesting project work, the course also offered informative presentations on different animal groups within the national park, the parks management and future challenges. Additionally, the students had the possibility to participate in different excursions, e.g. to identify bats in their winter roost, map owls during night and to visit a red deer carcass.
Thanks to Dr. Martin Wegmann and Prof. Dr. Jörg Müller and his team for enabling the interdisciplinary course, for encouraging the exchange among students and the good time in the Bavarian Forest!
text and photos: Anna-Lena Hendel
In the past few weeks various block courses by colleagues from DLR have taken place. Divers topics how remote sensing can be used, which methods have to be applied and how to put it into practice were covered by our colleagues Hannes Taubenböck, Martin Bachmann and Andreas Dietz. Another block course will focus on python programming for spatial data analysis and later in April object oriented classifications and advanced spatial analysis for geoscientists will be offered as block course before the actual summer term starts again with the regular courses.
This week Hannes Taubenböck from DLR discussed with our EAGLE students the application of remote sensing applications within urban research. The advantages and challenges of different sensors, data sets and methods were critically discussed with the students. Hannes very much appreciated the critical and controversial discussion with the EAGLE students which are the foundation for sound scientific exchange and progress. Beside the very informative lecture and presentations by the students also the practical application of remote sensing data for mapping urban areas and extracting a variety of relevant parameters was covered. Hannes started with object oriented classifications methods within urban geography and further details of OBIA approaches will be provided by next courses by Christian Geiss (DLR) and Michael Thiel in the summer term.
Pictures are taken by Marius Philipp, EAGLE MSc student 2017
As every term our students could participated in a scientific presentation course where they learned how to prepare, design and defend a scientific talk. Beside the theoretical part many practical exercises were part of this course and a final presentation in a large lecture room with interested colleagues to also get used to an actual lecture room that resembles a room within a conference. The presentation about remote sensing applications and especially the development from the first to the last day was impressive and we are very much looking forward to see our students presenting at future conferences.
The EAGLE course “Remote Sensing in Biodiversity and Conservation Science” took place in the last week of the summer term at the field research station in Fabrik Schleichach, Steigerwald. 20 biology and EAGLE students worked and lived together for one week and developed several joint ecological remote sensing projects. Beside the actual data analysis and scientific discussions also various field methods were introduced such as lighttraps for catching insects, bats were caught and bird and forest data was provided by the colleagues from the biology department (Prof. J. Müller and colleagues). The students achieved impressive analysis and managed to show the huge potential of interdisciplinary research.