We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Integrating remote sensing and demography for more efficient and effective assessment of changing mountain forest distribution.

Morley, Peter J. and Donoghue, Daniel N.M. and Chen, Jan-Chang and Jump, Alistair S. (2018) 'Integrating remote sensing and demography for more efficient and effective assessment of changing mountain forest distribution.', Ecological informatics., 43 . pp. 106-115.


Species range shifts have been well studied in light of rising global temperatures and the role climate plays in restricting species distribution. In mountain regions, global trends show upward elevational shifts of altitudinal treelines. However, there is significant variation in response between geographic locations driven by climatic and habitat heterogeneity and biotic interactions. Accurate estimation of treeline shifts requires fine-scale patterns of forest structure to be discriminated across mountain ranges. Satellite remote sensing allows detailed information on forest structure to be extrapolated across mountain ranges, however, variation in methodology combined with a lack of information on accuracy and repeatability has led to high uncertainty in the utility of remotely sensed data in studies of mountain treelines. We unite three themes; suitability of remote sensing products, ecological relevance of classifications and effectiveness of the training and validation process in relation to the study of mountain treeline ecotones. We identify needs for further research comparing the utility of different remotely sensed data sets, better characterisation of treeline structure and incorporation of accuracy assessment. Collectively, the improvements we describe will significantly improve the utility of remote sensing by facilitating a more consistent approach to defining geographic variation in treeline structure, improving our ability to link processes from stand to regional scale and the accuracy of range shift assessments. Ultimately, this advance will enable better monitoring of mountain treeline shifts and estimation of the associated to biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date accepted:06 December 2017
Date deposited:03 January 2018
Date of first online publication:07 December 2017
Date first made open access:03 January 2018

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar