The Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing in Ecology (LARSE) is a joint research effort of the USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station, and the OSU College of Forestry's Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. LARSE emerged from an array of related remote sensing research projects focused on terrestrial ecology problems.
This activity began in 1989 with a concentration on using digital imagery to characterize forest structure in the Pacific Northwest Douglas-fir/western hemlock zone. Within a few short years, Landsat-based maps of forest structure were being directly incorporated into ecological analyses and models operating at landscape to regional scales. LARSE regularly employs between 10 to 20 scientists in a variety of positions, including permanent staff, post-docs, faculty research assistants, graduate students, student workers, and international scholars. Also, there are a number of full-time scientists not directly supported by the Lab that actively collaborate on LARSE research projects.
We regularly use Landsat to characterize change across the full time series length from 1972-present, with a national focus across all lands and cover types. We were early adopters of lidar data to derive detailed forest structure characteristics, and developed innovative methods for scaling between field measurements and MODIS data using Landsat imagery. Because integration across datasets is the future of remote sensing applications in ecology, an important current focus is complementary blending of lidar, Landsat, MODIS, and other datasets.
Remaining firmly rooted to the ground, LARSE research routinely incorporates field data and our scientists maintain a strong connection to the ecosystems in which they work. Applications include monitoring of natural resources, modeling of carbon flux and biodiversity, and spatially explicit scaling of ecological measurements and knowledge. The scope of activities and data types used continue to expand.