Welcome to the Gamon Lab website

Dr. Gamon studies the "breathing of the planet" - the exchanges of carbon and water vapour between the biosphere and the atmosphere that affect ecosystem productivity and help regulate our atmosphere and climate.

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Research Topics

· Disturbance effects on ecosystem function
· Climate change impacts in northern latitude ecosystems
· Optical tools for sampling terrestrial ecosystems
· Detecting plant biochemical responses with non-contact optical methods
· Stress-related plant ecophysiology and photosynthesis changes
· Eco-informatics and Cyberinfrastructure for ecosystem monitoring

Research Topics

What is a spectral laboratory?

Dr. Gamon's Spectral Laboratory focuses on the use of optical remote sensing to evaluate vegetation productivity. Dr. Gamon founded SpecNet toward this goal and developed of a number of spectral reflectance tools (uni-spec, multi-spec) that can be used in analyzing field, airborne and spacecraft data.


Join us!

Do you want to understand reflectance and global productivity at a deeper level? Apply online to join Gamon Lab as a Post-Doctoral Fellow, Ph.D. or Master's student.

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"I welcome inquiries from applicants interested in ecology (ecophysiology, ecosystems ecology), remote sensing, ecosystem modeling and eco-informatics and cyberinfrastructure. Please complete an online application."

Current Projects

  • “Evaluating growing season length and productivity across the ABoVE Domain using novel satellite indices and a ground sensor network”(ABoVE Program, NASA, USA)

    How are growing season length and primary productivity changing in the boreal and arctic regions of Alaska and western Canada and what drives these changes?  Using satellite remote sensing and ground measurements (optical sensors and eddy covariance), this project investigates patterns of “greening” and “browning” detected in satellite time series data, and seeks to resolve the underlying causes, including disturbance, climate variation, and climate change leading to altered temperatures and hydrology.  Key tools will include the light-use efficiency model and novel satellite-derived pigment indices that detect invisible photosynthetic activity in evergreen vegetation.  This 3-year project is part of a 9-year NASA ABoVE program, and is funded through the University of Nebraska.
  • “The functional significance of plant optical diversity: a multi-scale analysis” (NSERC, Canada)
    This project applies new optical sampling methods to study biodiversity, gas exchange (the breathing of the planet), and ecosystem feedbacks to the atmosphere and climate.  The central theme is “optical diversity” – variation in vegetation optical patterns in time and space – because optical variation reveals useful information about underlying species richness, functional diversity, and ecosystem processes. 
  • “Quantifiying the carbon balance of Mattheis Ranch” (Rangeland Research Institute, U. Alberta).
    This project measures net carbon uptake at Mattheis Ranch using eddy covariance and remote sensing methods, validated by independent ground sampling. This work can provide a basis for improved rangeland management that optimizes carbon sequestration, ecosystem productivity and biodiversity. 
  • “Imaging Spectrometry & Cyberinfrastructure for Biospheric Carbon Monitoring” (AITF)
    This project uses novel field sensors and remote sensing to monitor patterns of ecosystem-atmosphere carbon exchange (the “breathing of the planet”).  A key focus is the integration of optical remote sensing with gas flux measurements, with the goal of developing improved optical methods of monitoring ecosystem function.
  • "Linking remotely sensed optical diversity to genetic, phylogenetic and functional diversity to predict ecosystem processes."  (Collaborative Research, US NSF & NASA)
  • Funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), this project will explore the ability of remote sensing to detect biodiversity at many levels. In particular, we are testing the Optical Diversity and Surrogacy hypotheses using experimental studies at Cedar Creek Reserve and other sites in the US Midwest. Interested applicants should also consider applying directly to partner universities, which include the University of Nebraska and the University of Minnesota. Click here to read the project ABSTRACT.
  • "Ecological Spectral Information System (ESIS): Integration of Spectral Data with Measurements of Vegetation Functional Traits" (Collaborative Research, NASA)
  • Funded by the US National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), this project is developing spectral data systems (databases and related software tools for processing, analyzing, visualizing and archiving spectral data) for ecological questions. Project PI: Phil Townsend (University of Wisconsin). Opportunities for this project are funded through partner institutions, including the University of Wisconsin, the University of Nebraska, and SpecNet. Interested applicants should consider applying through one of these institutions. Click here to read the project Overview & Synopsis.

    • "PhotoProxy" (Collaborative Research, Jülich, Germany, & European Space Agency)
    Supported by the European Space Agency via Forschungszentrum Jülich (funding pending), with additional contributions from Canadian and US funding sources, this project explores several optical indices as "proxies" of photosynthetic function using multiscale remote sensing (proximal, aircraft and satellite sensing). Calibration and validation field sites in Europe, and North America are used to validate optical measurements (solar-induced fluorescence and reflectance indices) from satellite and aircraft, providing novel metrics of photosynthetic activity and plant stress. Our research examines the scale dependence of these optical metrics for improved estimation of photosynthetic productivity.
    Links to Related Projects:
  • SpecNet – Spectral Network
  • Research Opportunities

    Positions available for motivated postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate students

    Postdoc Positions :

    1. “Quantifying rangeland carbon balance” (Alberta, Canada).
    2. "Evaluating growing season length and productivity across the ABoVE Domain" (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)
    3. "Remote Sensing of Biodiversity" (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA).
    4. "PhotoProxy" (Alberta, Canada & Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

    Student Positions: Graduate and undergraduate research opportunities are available (University of Alberta and Universty of Nebraska)

    Technical Positions: Technical support opportunites are available (University of Alberta and Universty of Nebraska)

    Funding sources: NASA (US), NSF (US), AITF (Alberta), Rangeland Research Institute (U. Alberta), NSERC (Canada), SpecNet and Decagon Inc. (Pullman WA, USA).

    Duties vary with topic and level of experience & training.

    Applicants should apply via this website. Direct inquiries will not be accepted.


    Latest News

    Congratulations to Kyle Springer, who recently completed his Master's!

    Recent Publications

    1. Gholizadeh H, Gamon JA, Zygielbaum AI, Hmimina GY, Yu R, *Moore RM, Helzer CJ, Townsend PA, Schweiger AK, Cavender-Bares J (2018)Detecting prairie biodiversity with airborne remote sensing.  Remote Sensing of Environment. 221:38-49

    2. Williamson SN, Anslow FS, Clarke GCK, Gamon JA, Jarosch AH, Hik DS (2018) Spring warming in the southwest Yukon is not amplified by the snow albedo feedback” Scientific Reports, 8(1): 9000. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-27348-7

    3. Wang, R,  Gamon JA, Schweiger AK, Cavender-Bares J, *Kothari S, Townsend PA, Zygielbaum AI (2018) Influence of species richness, evenness and composition on optical diversity: a simulation study.  Remote Sensing of Environment.  211, 218-228

    4. Schweiger AK, Cavender-Bares J, Townsend PA, Hobbie SE, Madritch MD, *Wang R, Tilman D, Gamon JA (2018) Leaf spectral diversity explains productivity, functional and phylogenetic diversity in a grassland experiment.  Nature Ecology & Evolution.  2:976-982.  doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0191 PDF

    5. Kothari, S, Cavender-Bares, J, *Bitan, K, Verhoeven AS, *Wang R, Montgomery RA, Gamon JA, (2018) Community-wide consequences of variation in photoprotective physiology in prairie plants.  Photosynthetica. 56(1): 455-467. DOI: 10.1007/s11099-018-0777-9

    6. Wang R, Gamon JA, Cavender-Bares J, Townsend PA, Zygielbaum AI (2017) The spatial sensitivity of optical diversity-biodiversity relationship: an experimental test in a prairie grassland (Cedar Creek). Ecological Applications DOI: 10.1002/eap.1669 

    7. Springer K, *Wang R, Gamon J (2017) Parallel Seasonal Patterns of Photosynthesis, Fluorescence, and Reflectance Indices in Boreal Trees.  Remote Sensing 9:691, doi:10.3390/rs9070691 (FLEX Special Issue)
    8. Cavender-Bares J, Gamon JA, Hobbie S, Madritch M, Meireles J, Schweiger A, Townsend P (2017) Harnessing plant spectra to integrate the biodiversity sciences across biological and spatial scales.  American Journal of Botany. 104(7):1-4

    9. Gamon JA, Huemmrich KF, *Wong CYS, Ensminger I, Garrity S, Hollinger DY, Noormets A, Peñuelas J (2016) A remotely sensed pigment index reveals photosynthetic phenology in evergreen conifers.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113 (46), 13087-13092 doi:10.1073/pnas.1606162113

    10. Wehlage DC, Gamon JA, Thayer D, Hildebrand D (2016) Interannual variability in dry mixed-grass prairie yield: a comparison of MODIS, SPOT, and field measurements.  Remote Sensing  8, 872; doi:10.3390/rs8100872

    11. Scott N. Williamson, Isabel C. Barrio, David S. Hik, John A. Gamon,  (2016) Phenology and species determine growing season albedo increase at the altitudinal limit of shrub growth in the sub-Arctic.  Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13297


    Click here for a more complete list of Dr. Gamon's papers.