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Biological Diversity Program


The Biological Diversity research program uses NASA observations and models to improve our understanding of biological diversity, how and why it is changing, and its effects on and interactions with the Earth system. NASA explores patterns of biological diversity on land and in water using observations from satellites, airborne and seaborne platforms, and in situ surveys. These observations are well-suited for detecting such patterns, especially at the ecosystem level, but also atfiner community and species levels. Through a combination of observations and models, NASA further seeks to understand the geophysical and ecological processes that result in the patterns of biological diversity our observations detect. This process-oriented research aligns the Biological Diversity research program with activities of other NASA Earth Science programs, such as efforts to track the biogeochemical cycling of elements like carbon and studies of the water cycle.

NASA Science Questions Primarily Addressed in Biological Diversity Research:

  • What drives the diversity of life on Earth?
  • How is this Biological diversity changing and why?
  • What are the effects of Biological diversity on other components of the Earth system?
  • Why do organisms and ecosystems exist where they do?

Most Relevant of NASA’s 24 Earth Science Questions to the Biological diversity Research Program:

  • How are global ecosystems changing?
  • What changes are occurring in global land cover and land use, and what are their causes?
  • How do ecosystems, land cover and biogeochemical cycles respond to and affect global environmental change?
  • What are the consequences of land cover and land use change for human societies and the sustainability of ecosystems?
  • What are the consequences of climate change and increased human activities for coastal regions?
  • How will carbon cycle dynamics and terrestrial and marine ecosystems change in the future?

Annual Budget for Research Program:

  • ~ $2 million

Major Activities—Types of Research Solicited:

  • Characterization of the distribution and abundance of elements of Biological diversity (populations, species, and/or communities)
  • Biological diversity and disturbance
  • Ecological structure and Biological diversity
  • Physiology and functional types and Biological diversity

Major Partnerships and Collaborations:

  • NASA Applied Sciences Research Program on Ecological Forecasting
  • Ecosystems Interagency Working Group of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program
  • Subcommittee on Ecological Systems of the National Science and Technology Council
  • Biodiversity Societal Benefit Area of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

Some Recent Activities:

Point of Contact for NASA Biodiversity:

  • Woody Turner
    Program Scientist, Biological Diversity
    NASA Headquarters
    Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate
    Mail Suite 3H78
    300 E Street, SW
    Washington, DC 20546-0001
    Telephone: +1 202 358-1662
    Facsimile:1 202 358-2770


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Curator: Carla Evans