Stanford, CA The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $750,000 grant to the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology for an intensive pilot study of ecosystem diversity in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. This research will contribute to the park’s “adaptive management” program, which uses science to improve the chances that the park’s ecosystems, including their complex vegetative and animal populations, are sustained into the future.

Using remote sensing, Dr. Gregory Asner will lead a one-year effort to better understand how fire and soil conditions affect the composition, structure, and nutrient content of vegetation over large areas in the park. He and his team of scientists and technicians will use a newly developed remote-sensing instrument, the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, to measure the structure and chemical composition of the park’s diverse ecosystems. The observatory combines a laser-based 3-D mapping system and a hyperspectral imager. This pilot project will help park managers develop the capacity and skills to undertake remote monitoring of the park’s ecosystems on their own.

Dr. Gregory Asner was recently cited by Popular Science as one of this year’s “Brilliant 10.” In 2005, he published a breakthrough paper in Science about selective logging in the Brazilian rainforest that revealed significantly higher levels of forest loss than previously understood. He has been a Research Staff Scientist at Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology since 2001.