The Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory (CABO) is a cross-scale initiative involving some of Canada’s leading researchers in biodiversity and remote sensing. Its overall objective is to build on and extend the spectranomics approach in Canada to improve our ability to forecast biosystem responses to environmental changes. In doing so, CABO will revolutionise the way biodiversity data is acquired across Canada and the world. CABO will link with and strengthen other international spectranomics initiatives to position Canada as a global leader in biodiversity science and conservation.
CABO will use high-fidelity field spectroscopy to measure foliar spectra using standardised protocols across a wide range of plant species of various growth forms from ecosystems representing major Canadian ecozones. This will provide the foundational data on which CABO depends.
Standardised field-collected foliar spectra will help determine how spectral signatures map onto plant phylogeny and at their potential for remote species discrimination across Canadian ecosystems. In addition, it will quantify the extent to which foliar spectra can remotely sense the major foliar chemicals that drive the biosphere (e.g. chlorophyll, nitrogen).
A major asset of CABO’s spectral database will be its reliability and traceability, both in terms of its geo-referenced, high-fidelity standardised spectral measurements and the accurate plant species identification relying up-to-date taxonomy (using VASCAN). Each spectrum will be associated with a herbarium species deposited at the Marie-Victorin herbarium at the Centre sur la biodiversité of Université de Montréal, and entered into Canadensys. This freely accessible foliar spectral database will be of tremendous value for taxonomy, ecology, and remote sensing research, and will provide the foundation for all future applications of high-resolution canopy biodiversity censuses based on hyperspectral imagery.