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Applied Geospatial Research Group




Remote sensing and GIScience encompass a transformative set of geospatial technologies that play a key role in modern environmental monitoring and modelling. We are a group of researchers based at the University of Calgary, led by Prof. Greg McDermid, whose interests revolve primarily around the application of these technologies to problems and challenges in ecology.  We combine cutting-edge remote sensing products, including satellite imagery, UAVs, and LiDAR, with geospatial analytical methods to produce maps and models that allow us to detect, monitor, and manage complex ecological patterns and processes.

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Featured Projects

The boreal-forest regions of Alberta are under increasing pressure from human development related to natural-resource extraction. Roads, seismic lines, well sites, cut blocks, mines, pipelines, and other elements of human footprint exert cumulative environmental effects that can harm biodiversity, water quality, and the habitat of threatened species such as woodland caribou. In order to mitigate these effects, resource-extraction companies and provincial regulators are working to develop monitoring initiatives that track the amount of human footprint present in a given area, and measure the rate at which previously disturbed areas are being reclaimed. The Boreal Ecosystem Recovery and Assessment {BERA) Project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between researchers at the University of Calgary (Greg McDermid, Steve Liang), University of Alberta (Scott Nielsen, Erin Bayne), Trent University (Steven Franklin), and the Canadian Forest Service (Guillermo Castilla). This five-year (2015-2020) project is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Cenovus, Conoco Phillips, and Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries.

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Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute

The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) conducts world-class monitoring on species, habitats, and ecosystems within the province of Alberta, and exists as an independent organization providing government and industry partners in the province with scientific information on the health of our environment. The purpose of this ongoing (2007- present) project is to develop the use of remote sensing for mapping habitats and human-footprint features across large areas of Alberta, and is funded the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. 

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Alberta-Bavaria Research Network (ABBY-Net)

The Alberta-Bavaria Research Network (ABBY Net: is a collaboration of Albertan and Bavarian researchers pursuing interdisciplinary work on the co-evolution of energy systems and ecosystems. Arising from a Bavarian delegation visit to Alberta in 2011, ABBY Net currently involves researchers from the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, University of Lethbridge, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Munich, Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuremberg, and Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Our group is committed to exploring new ideas and innovative approaches to the grand challenge of transitioning established energy systems towards low-carbon solutions, through research and training in Energy systems, socio-Economy, and Ecosystems (E3 Systems). ABBY-Net has trained more than 100 young researchers through workshops, student exchanges and annual summer schools, and receives support from Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, BayFor, and others.

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Forestry and Ecological Applications of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

UAVs are an important new development in remote-sensing science, bridging the gap between field observations and high-altitude data acquired from satellites and piloted aircraft. UAVs have several important advantages over traditional remote-sensing platforms, including flexible low-cost sensor deployment, safe near-surface operation, and extraordinarily high-resolution imaging capabilities. The purpose of this research is to further the development and application of UAVs as platforms for effective environmental monitoring, and is intended to assist anyone dealing with remote sensing technology in a forestry or ecological context. Current projects involve the use of UAVs for early detection of mountain pine beetle attack, Ferruginous Hawk habitat analysis, and coastal analysis. This five-year project (2016 - 2021) is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


And we have close partnerships with:

Our research group is partly supported by the following generous sponsors:


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