Conservation news

Audio: The cutting-edge technologies allowing us to monitor ecosystems like never before

On today’s episode, we discuss the cutting-edge remote sensing technologies used to monitor ecosystems like rainforests and coral reefs. We also listen to a few ecoacoustic recordings that are used to analyze species richness in tropical forests.

Listen here:


Our first guest today is Greg Asner, who leads the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) at Stanford University’s Carnegie Institution for Science. Asner invented a technique he calls “airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy” that utilizes imaging spectrometers mounted on the Carnegie Airborne Observatory airplane to produce highly detailed data on large and complex ecosystems like tropical forests.

Asner used that 3-D imaging technique to discover the tallest tropical tree in the world back in 2016, but he’s also used the technology to create ultra-high-resolution maps of coral reefs. Asner and his colleague Clare LeDuff will be documenting the progress of a new project called Reefscape right here on Mongabay, and he’ll tell us about that in addition to explaining the technologies he’s using to monitor the world’s rainforests.

Our second guest is Mitch Aide, the principal investigator at the University of Puerto Rico’s Tropical Community Ecology Lab. Aide not only uses bioacoustics in his research, he’s also led the development of Arbimon, a web-based application for storing and analyzing bioacoustic data that aims to improve how we monitor land change and biodiversity across vast landscapes and long timeframes.

In this Field Notes segment, Aide will play us a few of the audio recordings he’s uploaded to Arbimon as part of his recent research and will explain how these recordings are used to examine species richness in tropical forests.

Here’s this episode’s top news:

The Mongabay Newscast is now available on Spotify! If you use that service, just look up “Mongabay Newscast” to listen to any of our previous episodes with guests like Jane Goodall, Paul Simon, or Margaret Atwood. If you don’t use Spotify, you can always hear past episodes at our website by visiting

You can subscribe to the Mongabay Newscast on Android, Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneInRSS and via Spotify. Or listen to all our episodes via the Mongabay website here on the podcast homepage.

The tallest tree in the tropics was discovered by Greg Asner and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory. Photo by Robin Martin, Carnegie Institution for Science.
Another view of the tallest tree in the tropics. Photo by Greg Asner, Carnegie Institution for Science.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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