Department of GIS and Remote Sensing

Head: Mgr. Martin Kopecký, Ph.D.

People ׀ Projects ׀ Publications ׀ Department website

Research topics

  • Microclimate measurement and modelling
  • Species distribution modelling
  • Forest disturbances
  • Plant community responses to global changes
  • Remote sensing in plant ecology

Selected recent results

1/ Forest microclimate modelling: can drones replace fieldwork?

Forest canopy structure shapes understorey microclimate experienced by the forest plants. Here, we used detailed air and soil temperature measurements performed in the Czech Karst to compare three contrasting approaches how to obtain information about forest canopy structure according to their ability to predict understorey microclimate. We compared traditional field-based methods based on hemispherical photographs and tree height measurements with two remote sensing approaches – LiDAR scanning and photogrammetric Structure-from-Motion (SfM), both obtained with drones. We found that both remote sensing methods can replace field measurements and that the cheaper photogrammetric SfM can provide information about forest structure comparable to substantially more expensive LiDAR scanning. Our results also suggested that fine-scale modelling of soil temperatures is more challenging than air temperature modelling.

  • Kašpar V., Hederová L., Macek M., Müllerová J., Prošek J., Surový P., Wild J. & Kopecký M. 2021: Temperature buffering in temperate forests: Comparing microclimate models based on ground measurements with active and passive remote sensing. Remote Sensing of Environment 263, 1 – 10. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2021.112522

Podrost listnatého lesa představuje jemnozrnnou mosaiku teplejších a chladnějších míst.

Forest understorey is a fine-grained mosaic of warmer and cooler places. The occurrence of different plant species in the forest understorey reflects this mosaic sensitively, and a botanist studying the patterns of plant distribution therefore needs detailed information on the forest microclimate. In our paper, we compared different ways of obtaining this key information by both field measurements and remote sensing.


2/ Elevational gradients of plant diversity and distribution

The relationship between plant diversity and distribution mirrors the climatic tolerance of individual species, but it is formed also by other ecological processes related to geographic context and evolutionary history. Two original studies by members of the Department of GIS and RS together with the Department of Functional Ecology utilized data from their long-term research activities in Western Himalaya and revisit basic ecological rules and hypotheses concerning elevational patterns in plant diversity and distribution: the Elevational Rapoport’s rule (stating that species occurring in higher elevations tend to grow in a broader range of elevations) and the mid-domain effect (predicting middle-elevation diversity peak due to geometric constraints). With the use of advanced null models, we demonstrated that the tests of these ecological rules were confounded by geographic settings. Both ecological rules thus do not reflect plant ecological requirements properly and need to be thoroughly revisited.

  • Macek M., Dvorský M., Klimeš A., Wild J., Doležal J. & Kopecký M. 2021: Midpoint attractor models resolve the mid-elevation peak in Himalayan plant species richness. Ecography 44, 1665 – 1677. doi:10.1111/ecog.05901
  • Macek M., Dvorský M., Kopecký M., Wild J. & Doležal J. 2021. Elevational range size patterns of vascular plants in Himalaya contradict Rapoport’s rule. Journal of Ecology: 1-34. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13772

 LLadakh jako ideální přírodní laboratoř pro výzkum rostlinné diverzity

Steep elevational gradients, worldwide elevational maximum of vascular plant occurrence at 6150 m a.s.l. and relatively pristine nature makes the Himalayan region of Ladakh an ideal nature laboratory for plant diversity research.


3/ TMS microclimate logger

After 10 years of development and testing, we published the official description of the new TMS microclimate logger. TMS logger represents substantial innovation and overcomes several major drawbacks of other available microclimate loggers. TMS logger accurately measures air, surface and soil temperature, and soil moisture and has an extremely large memory and durable batteries. TMS logger is therefore highly suitable for long-term microclimate measurements in demanding field conditions.

Mikroklimatické čidlo TMS

TMS microclimate logger resembles a small herbaceous plant. This original design thus allows measuring air and soil temperatures and soil moisture at the plant-relevant scale.

  • Wild J., Kopecký M., Macek M., Šanda M., Jankovec J. & Haase T. (2019) Climate at ecologically relevant scales: A new temperature and soil moisture logger for long-term microclimate measurement. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 268: 40–47.


4/ Life and death of Picea abies after bark-beetle outbreak

Large-scale stand-replacing disturbances are increasingly frequent, especially in vast coniferous forests of the Northern Hemisphere. Despite ongoing intensive research we still lack studies that disentangle processes driving forest regeneration and facilitate decision-making of forest managers, who are responsible for post-disturbance stand recovery. We followed the fate of 2552 individual seedlings for 12 years after a large-scale bark-beetle outbreak that caused complete canopy dieback in mountain Norway spruce (Picea abies) forests in SE Germany. We showed that most seedlings originated directly within the three-year dieback of canopy trees induced by bark-beetle outbreak. Our study thus highlights the so far unrecognized importance of “disturbance-related” regeneration at the expense of advance regeneration for stand recovery after bark-beetle outbreaks. We also showed that seedling mortality, and not the seedling growth rate, is the key process behind microsite specificity for tree regeneration.

Velkoplošný rozpad stromového patra v Bavorském Národním Parku, kde jsme podrobně studovali procesy smrkového lesa po kůrovcové kalamitě

Regenerating mountain spruce forest after large-scale bark beetle outbreak in the Bavarian Forest National Park where we studied tree regeneration after the stand-replacing disturbance.

  • Macek M., Wild J., Kopecký M., Červenka J., Svoboda M., Zenáhlíková J., Brůna J., Mosandl R., & Fischer A. (2017) Life and death of Picea abies after bark-beetle outbreak: ecological processes driving seedling recruitment. Ecological Applications, 27, 156–167.