Research project

PRIN 2017 - 2017CTH94H - Paolo Villa (DTA.AD004.284)

Thematic area

Earth system science and environmental technologies

Project area

Osservazione della Terra (DTA.AD004)

Structure responsible for the research project

Institute for electromagnetic sensing of the environment (IREA)

Other structures collaborating in the research project

Project manager

Phone number: 0223699292


Based on the assumption that phylogenetic analysis and imaging spectroscopy can be used to map plant traits across scales and gradients, the project proposes a multidisciplinary approach joining the two techniques for assessing macrophyte functional diversity, a component of freshwater systems globally under pressure. We will collect data on macrophyte traits, diversity, and spectral reflectance from plots sampled over selected lakes and wetlands in Italy, according to robust experimental design. A fully resolved supertree, obtained from DNA markers analysis integrating available data and new sequencing, will be used for assessing the phylogenetic diversity of sampled plots through different metrics, highlighting the clustering degree of different communities. Ultra-high resolution imaging spectroscopy data acquired over the plots will be used for mapping bio-chemical and functional macrophyte traits, including: canopy morphology, productivity, pigments and nutrients content. Environmental parameters collected and diversity metrics derived will be eventually merged into a data-driven framework based machine learning for mapping macrophyte functional diversity.


The main objective is to develop a methodological approach that links SD, PD and FD of macrophytes, based on a large set of field measurements, including leaf chemical and structural traits, canopy spectral reflectance response, and phylogenetic signal. Our results will contribute to advancing community ecology studies dealing with the characterization of aquatic ecosystem processes across multiple scales, focusing on primary production. To this, three hypotheses will be tested through empirical data collection and analysis, namely:
o that bio-chemical, morphological and phenological shifts among genotypes, species and lineages offer a robust basis to distinguish spectral optical types at the community level;
o that SD and PD metrics are able to provide quantitative information about aquatic plant diversity, mirroring community complexity across environmental gradients;
o that remote sensing in integration with phylogenetic information can be used as a key marker of FD and coupled ecosystem functions, at synoptic scale.

Start date of activity



biodiversity, imaging spectroscopy, macrophytes

Last update: 07/12/2023