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Harvest Speaker Series - Dr. Di Yang

On Friday, May 14, 2021 Dr. Di Yang continued the HARVEST speaker series with a discussion about a new link between people and pixel. Her presentation was entitled “New Link Between People and Pixel: Leveraging Citizen Science and Earth Observation for Monarch Butterfly Conservation”. Below is a short bio on Dr. Di Yang and an abstract of her talk as well as a recording of her presentation.


Dr. Di Yang


Dr. Di Yang is an Assistant Professor at Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center (WyGISC). Di received her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Florida in 2019. She is a geographer and geospatial data scientist with expertise in geospatial informatics, applied remote sensing, volunteered geographic information (VGI), and macrosystem ecology. Her research interest lies in the development of advanced remote sensing techniques through digital image processing and geovisualization applications, specifically in coupled human-environment interactions and citizen sciences. She is also committed to developing and sharing expertise in processing and analyzing large ecological and remote sensing databases by using cutting-edge tools (e.g., Google Earth Engine, Microsoft Azure, and HPC) to benefit conservation, resource management, landowners, and policymakers.


“New Link Between People and Pixel: Leveraging Citizen Science and Earth Observation for Monarch Butterfly Conservation”


Citizen science is increasingly utilized to empower people to participate in conservation work and research. Despite the profusion of citizen science projects in conservation, many lacked a coherent analytical framework for understanding broad-scale transnational human-species interactions. By incorporating earth observations from remotely sensed data, resolutions were provided to overcome this limitation. In this seminar, I will use the example of the monarch butterfly, a migratory species of high conservation value, to illustrate how citizen science data can be utilized to help inform conservation decisions. Milkweed (A. Syriaca) is the primary host plant of the monarch butterfly and the habitat is heavily impacted by land-use changes (e.g., cultivation, urbanization). Spatiotemporal models are built to map and simulate milkweeds and monarch butterflies’ conservation hot spots.


I will also address the challenges and limitations of this approach and provide recommendations on the future direction of citizen-based projects to overcome these challenges. The integration of citizen-based science and the earth observation data can become the new frontier in conservation because the applications of citizen science data in distant human-environment relationships have rarely been explored, especially from coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) perspectives.






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