The biodiversity conservation policy of the European Commission includes the development of warning and rapid response systems for biological invasions and urges further investigations of their impacts on ecosystem function and services. However, solely field-based approaches to mapping invasive plant species distribution and their impact across landscapes is a time consuming process and potentially subject to observation bias.
Remote sensing provides a systematic, objective, and synoptic view on Earth cover. This technique hence offers a great opportunity to target biological invasion and their impact across various spatial and temporal scales. Despite a handful studies, all of them outside Europe, that have followed a remote sensing approach, the use of remote sensing for studying biological invasions is largely underexplored and underused by invasion biologists.
In response to this research need, the DIARS project (funded under the FP7, ERA-NET, BiodivERsA programme) was recently started up bringing together European specialists from both remote sensing as well as ecology.