Diagnosis from the Sky: Catching Insect Infestations within Forests Before It’s Too Late


Fine-tuning remote sensing to protect forests from the spread of dangerous critters

Invasive insects, fungi, or other pathogens can sweep through entire regions with deadly effect, devastating forests and causing ripple effects throughout the ecosystem. It happened here in Connecticut early in the 20th century, when 80 to 90% of the forest canopy was wiped out by the Chestnut Blight in some areas. When it comes to preventing such drastic land conversions over huge expanses of land, tracking the changes and catching the problem early is key.

Researchers at the Global Environmental Remote Sensing (GERS) Laboratory in UConn’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment – including GERS director and assistant professor Zhe Zhu, Post-Doctoral Researcher Su Ye, and Ph.D. student Kexin Song – are working to improve remote sensing technology’s ability to detect subtle changes in real-time across the landscape, namely to diagnose insect infestations in forests.

The researchers focused on two examples, one in Connecticut and another in Colorado.

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Image via University of Connecticut