Iryna Dronova

Postdoctoral Researcher


Research Interests

Ecosystem and Landscape Ecology, Remote Sensing and GIS, Biodiversity and Conservation, Coupled Human and Natural Systems

Research Description

I am interested in diverse aspects of landscape ecology including: multi-scale structure of ecosystems and scaling of ecological processes from local to regional and global levels; the role of spatial heterogeneity in ecosystem response to disturbance, climate change and human activities; biodiversity, conservation and linkages among organisms and physical environment at different scales.  I am also interested in combining field ecological methods with remote sensing and spatial analysis to facilitate monitoring and assessment of ecological benefits in restoration projects.

In July 2014, I will start as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley and I welcome cross-disciplinary collaborations with ecology, environmental planning, restoration, earth science, conservation, remote sensing and other fields.

My current postdoctoral research is funded by the California Sea Grant Delta Science Fellowship:

Bay-Delta wetlands, California, USA: remote sensing-based modeling of canopy cover to facilitate spatio-temporal ecosystem and habitat modeling and monitoring of restoration projects

This study applies remote sensing and field observations to better understand historical and present-day variation in ecosystem and habitat services of wetland vegetation canopies in California Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. This study is taking advantage of >30-year Landsat satellite archive and rich geospatial data libraries to model spatial and temporal variation in canopy leaf area index and other attributes related to vegetation structure and function. The outcomes of this analysis would facilitate the up-scaling of wetland carbon fluxes from site measurements to broader landscape levels, assessments of habitat suitability for wetland canopy-sensitive bird species and  monitoring of ecosystem change in wetland restoration projects.

My past research and some of the ongoing work include:

Poyang Lake wetland complex, PR China: linkages among flood-driven wetland ecosystem dynamics, functional composition of vegetation and landscape indicators of waterbird diversity. My PhD research combined remote sensing and field observations to investigate the linkages among functional diversity of wetland vegetation, flooding and waterbird diversity in a large freshwater wetland in PR China and a Ramsar wetland conservation hotspot (Poyang Lake). The broad goal of this study is to generate insights about the role of spatial and temporal processes in shaping this unique wetland mosaic and to offer new techniques for multi-scale analysis of complex and dynamic landscapes in general. I combine field observations and spectroscopic measurements of vegetation with novel object-based analysis of remote sensing images from different sensors. I am also investigating short- and long-term landscape transitions that are simultaneously driven by hydrology, phenology and disturbance.

Landscape indicators of waterbird diversity: Poyang Lake also provides unique habitat for large numbers of wintering waterbirds including endangered species.  I extend my analyses of wetland composition and change to investigate which remote sensing-derived landscape characteristics may best explain spatial variation in waterbird diversity and non-uniformity of bird distribution among permanent sub-lakes that become isolated in the low water season. I am additionally interested in ecological relevance of spatial autocorrelation in remotely sensed sub-lake attributes and its capacity to elucidate landscape connectivity and spatial ecological relationships among wetland units and bird habitat choices.

Northern temperate forest region, USA: landscape ecosystem approach to investigate temporal trajectories of successional forests  and response to change drivers

 I am broadly interested in what role spatial heterogeneity plays in the dynamics of forest ecosystems, and how the interplay among physical environment, vegetation canopy structure and radiative transfer, species composition and disturbance affects temporal trajectories and ecosystem services to humans and wildlife at different spatial and temporal scales. My previous research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor examined variation in forest aboveground net primary productivity, canopy nitrogen content, structure and leaf area index  and their relationships among transitioning aspen-dominated forest ecosystems with different species composition at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Currently, I am applying hierarchical multi-scale object-based image analysis to examine the potential of remote sensing to recover landscape ecosystem composition and spatial heterogeneity across the region and to facilitate monitoring of ecosystem response to change drivers over large areas.

Selected Publications

Published/accepted/final stage of review:

Dronova I., Gong P., Clinton N., Wang L., Fu W., Qi S., Liu Y. 2012. Landscape analysis of wetland plant functional types: the effects of spatial scale, vegetation classes and classification methods. Remote Sensing of Environment 127:357-369. Link

Wang L, Dronova I, Gong P, Yang W, Li Y, Liu Q. 2012. A new time-series vegetation-water index of phenological-hydrological trait across species and functional types for Poyang Lake wetland ecosystem.  Remote Sensing of Environment 125:49-63. Link

Dronova I., Gong P., Wang L. 2011. Object-based analysis and change detection of major wetland cover types and their classification uncertainty during the low water period at Poyang Lake, China. Remote Sensing of Environment 115(12): 3220-3236. Link

Dronova I., Bergen K.M., Ellsworth D.S. 2011. Forest canopy properties and variation in aboveground net primary production over Upper Great Lakes Landscapes. Ecosystems 14(6): 865–879. Link

Bergen, K.M. and Dronova, I. 2007. A remote sensing-ecosystem approach to observing succession on aspen-dominated landscapes. Landscape Ecology, 22(9): 1395-1410. Link

Tkachenko, V. and Dronova I. 2003. The Synphytoindicational Characteristics of Cretaceous Steppe “Creydova Flora”, Ukrainian Botanical Journal Vol. 1 (2003): 18-25.

Honors and Awards

California Sea Grant CALFED Delta Science postdoctoral fellowship (2013-2014, awarded 2012)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth and Space Science student Fellowship 2009-2012

The Association of American Geographers Student Paper Competition “Remote Sensing” Specialty Group, 2012 (2nd prize)

American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Northern California Regional Scholarship, “Remote Sensing”, 2011

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, UC Berkeley, 2010

Berkeley Big Ideas: Curricular Innovation Contest (3rd prize), for proposed interdisciplinary course “Introduction to Coupled Human and Natural Systems”, UC Berkeley, 2007

Recent Teaching


Contact Information


Office: 222 Mulford

Research Group(s)

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