Mapping Plants by Trait

Ecology and Environment

Several MSI users are participating in a multidisciplinary project to create maps that show key traits in plants, such as leaf nitrogen concentration, leaf phosphorus concentration, and specific leaf area. The high-resolution maps show a great deal of local variability in plant traits. This information will be extremely useful as input to algorithms that are used to model carbon cycles.

MSI PIs Peter Reich (Forest Resources) and Arindam Banerjee (Computer Science and Engineering) and members of their groups participated in this study. Members of Professor Reich’s MSI user group include: Ethan Butler (co-lead author), Abhi Datta (co-lead author), Habacuc Flores-Mareno, Ming Chen, and Kirk R. Wythers. Co-author Farideh Fazayeli is a member of Professor Banerjee’s MSI user group. Other researchers on the project came from a number of disciplines at several institutions.

An article about this research appears on the U of M News site: From Alaska to Amazonia: First Global Maps of Traits That Drive Vegetation Growth.

The paper can be read on the website of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA: Mapping Local and Global Variability in Plant Trait Distributions.

Professor Reich’s group uses MSI resources to develop new models to simulate carbon cycling. Professor Banerjee’s group uses MSI for large-scale machine learning and analysis applied to recommender systems, text mining, and climate science.