Leon’s expertise lies in using earth observation to study ecosystems and improve informed decision-making in spatial planning and environmental management. Two core focus areas are 1) the use and potential of satellite earth observation for monitoring biodiversity dynamics and 2) the use of earth observation for the management of coastal ecosystems and livelihoods (with regional focus on Vietnam).
Leon’s PhD research focuses on the question how we can use satellite remote sensing to map and monitor plant (functional) diversity. Large-scale spatially and temporally explicit data on these patterns can greatly benefit us to measure the impacts of supply chains, climate change, human disturbance, conservation efforts and policies on our ecosystems.
This has resulted in remotely sensed functional biodiversity maps of Sabah, Borneo and the Montesinho national park in Portugal. The studies in Sabah revealed a strong relationship between the functional diversity metrics and land use as well as elevation. Oil-palm plantations were shown to harbour much less diversity as seen from space as compared to logged and intact forests. In addition, we assessed the how spatial scaling of the metrics changes we way we observe our biodiversity patterns. The studies in Montesinho allowed to link functional diversity observed from satellites to field measurements on the ground and helped address the question which canopy traits should be part of such functional diversity measures and how these choices affect the patterns we observe. Taken together, the work demonstrates the potential and challenges of monitoring plant functional diversity from space-borne sensors.
Prior to conducting his PhD at Leiden University, Leon worked for the Space Technology Institute in Hanoi, Vietnam. The main output of this work include EO-based monitoring of mangrove forests fragmentation and land use change in relation to provincial zonal policies using high resolution SPOT data, the implementation of the LANDSAT archives for gap-free temporally dense longitudinal monitoring of changes in mangrove forests, and the development of a spectral library that allows us to map different mangrove species to map vegetation distributions and assess mangrove species diversity.
Besides research, Leon has been involved in course work on the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Data Science and Earth Observation, Statistics, Environmental Biology and Academic Writing Skills to BSc., MSc. Students as well as professionals.
No relevant ancillary activities