review in Conservation Biology

a great review has been published in Conservation Biology. It is nicely addressing the scope of the book while also outlining what is missing – we are working on it to include also non-multispectral data – updates soon.

see here for the review and other interesting book reviews:

Remote Sensing and GIS for Ecologists Using Open Source Software. Wegmann, M., B. Leutner, and S. Dech. 2016. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter, U.K. 316 pp. $43.33 (paperback). ISBN 978-1-78427-022-3.

This book to open methods created by the ongoing geospatial revolution to ecologists, who could then use remote-sensing data more widely for local- or global-scale research. It is a textbook, not a scientific review, and, as is clearly stated, aims to be a primer. The authors only assume basic computer skills but no theoretical knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS), and the context is platform independent. This sounds like a dream for many scientists, but it does come with a limitation. From the vast opportunities offered by remote sensing and GIS, this book discusses only analysis of multispectral satellite remote-sensing data at regional scale, and even that at an introductory level. Within this scope, however, it is a rather comprehensive guide and includes not only image handling, processing, and classification but also collection of reference data, accuracy analyses, and more ecology-focused applications such as species distribution modeling and animal-movement analysis. As a textbook, it does not focus on the current state of the art or the most recent developments; rather, it introduces the tools and methods that are routinely applied nowadays. The book relies on open-source software. For ecologists who are usually not programmers, the main advantage of this is that (at least) the software is free. The book also points the user toward freely available data sets and describes workflows that are uncomplicated and robust. The brave step this textbook takes is to introduce R and command-line or script-based GIS processing. Although working without a graphical user interface may involve a steep learning curve, it is clearly worth the investment because it allows an iterative approach and processing of large data sets. The authors successfully balance usefulness to a novice and theoretical correctness and introduce what may be called remote-sensing common sense through many practical tips and do’s and don’ts. Still, this book will not save one from experimenting on a trial and error basis. The authors stress there is no single method that can be recommended and that many have to be tested to find the appropriate fit. All the examples are demonstrated on the same data set, which tempts the reader to use the online resources provided. Despite its challenging scope, it is not too long, and the chapters are concise enough to work as self-contained exercises. Remote Sensing and GIS for Ecologists could become an essential undergraduate-level textbook, but it is also a guide to practicing ecologists who want to broaden their toolkit, especially ecologists who work in interdisciplinary teams.

review by Harini Nagendra

Review by Harini Nagendra of our book:

“This massive guidebook provides an impressive integration of theoretical concepts of remote sensing, GIS and spatial analysis with practical approaches using a number of field examples, available as free datasets for people to practice on, using open source software throughout for  maximum accessibility. From how to begin with spatial data sampling, all the way through to the final creation of publishable maps and graphics, the book is an invaluable one-stop resource for ecologists, who are now increasingly utilising the power of spatial datasets for research, conservation practice and policy.”
Harini Nagendra
Professor of Sustainability, Azim Premji University, Bangalore India

review by Allison Leidner, NASA Earth Science Division

The insights that remote sensing and GIS can provide to ecologists offer an amazing opportunity to advance research, but the learning curve to use such tools can be steep. This book helps the reader wade through what could feel like an overwhelming amount of information to practically apply remote sensing and GIS to ecological questions. Importantly, this book enables the reader to learn a high-level concept and become familiar with the overall language used in the discipline, and then zoom in to the nuts and bolts of how to actually execute an analysis. Consequently, the book will be a valuable resource to ecological researchers, particularly because of the focus on open source software.”
Allison Leidner, Universities Space Research Association/NASA Earth Science Division

book review by H. deKlerk

“The book is brilliant – a real gem.  It contains some of the best descriptions I’ve seen of planning a GIS/RS research project, steps to follow, statistics and approaches used in species modelling and remote sensing classification. […] I’m definitely going to recommend it to my students.  It is particularly clear and focussed for those interested in using spatial analyses for conservation management questions.”

H. deKlerk, lecturer, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

uploaded data

Expected structure of your data either your working directory set to the data/ folder or above it.

Expected structure of your data either your working directory set to the data/ folder or above it.

we uploaded and linked all data sets used in our book on the “data” page of our webpage. Cropped Landsat data as original as well as pre-processed files can be downloaded. Moreover a variety of vector files and final products created in the chapters are available. Download the data here.

final electronic proof

remote_sensing_GIS_ecology_open_source_Wegmann_Leutner_Dech_Oct2015We received the final electronic proof of our book “Remote Sensing and GIS for Ecologists – Using Open Source software“. The printed versions of our book should be available soon and we are very much looking forward to it.

The publisher is still offering 20% discount on pre-orders – order our book right now on using the discount code: RSGE20.


We are also thankful to Woody Turner for his fantastic foreword:

“.….With this book, Wegmann, Leutner, and Dech […] cleverly couple an exploration of satellite remote sensing with step-by-step immersion in the open source GIS and statistical analysis tools that allow one to make sense of the remote sensing products. In my experience, this book is unique in walking the ecological reader through the actual steps necessary to create their own remotely sensed products. It is more than an introduction to the principles of remote sensing and GIS. It is guide to get the reader going, and using remote sensing and GIS to create focused products. The text also helpfully points to selected websites, articles, and books for deeperbook_remote_sensing_gis_ecologists_wegmann_leutner_dech informational dives and recommends ways to connect with the geospatial community. I applaud the authors for advancing all ecological disciplines with this text. Through this guidebook, they open the doors to the geospatial revolution that is taking our science and its applications to new heights.


Woody Turner
Program Scientist for Biological Diversity and Program Manager
for Ecological Forecasting, Earth Science Division, NASA Headquarters

book soon available – discount for pre-orders

RS_GIS_Ecology_Book_Wegmann_Leutner_Dech_adOur book “Remote Sensing and GIS for Ecologists – Using Open Source software” will soon be available. We worked through the 3rd proof and fixed all remaining issues. Looking forward to the printed version. The book offers a great overview of Remote Sensing applications using Open Source software, mainly R but also QGIS and provides you with working code to practically redo the analysis outlined in the book. The new RStoolbox R package which has been developed in parallel to the book is used extensively.

The publisher is still offering 20% discount on pre-orders – order our book right now on using the discount code: RSGE20.

Update: R spatial handling cheatsheet

RemoteSensing_GIS_spatial_R_cheatsheetWe updated our cheatsheet on spatial data handling in R. Beside some minor changes of common raster commands we also added now some of the new RStoolbox commands within a Remote Sensing operations section such as the command for supervised classification, fractional cover analysis or cloud masking.

The R spatial data handling cheatsheet has been created to ease the use of relevant R commands and cen be  downloaded as pdf.

Copyedited proof is submitted

The copy-edited proof of our book “Remote Sensing and GIS for Ecologists – Using Open Source software” is finally done and we just need to fix some issues with the image colouring. We are positive that the printed version will be available later in October or early November.

Also the package “RStoolbox” which is used extensively in this book has just been accepted by CRAN and can now be downloaded using “install.packages(“RStoolbox)” – more details here.