John Gamon

CCIS 2-277
Web Site

Student Research Opportunities – Gamon Lab, Beginning 2012
  1. Remote Sensing of Ecosystem Gas Exchange (1-2 student positions) – Students will participate in field experiments combining field optical sampling, gas exchange, and biomass measurements for a variety of ecosystems. The goal is to improve remote sensing methods for tracking dynamic ecosystem gas exchange processes (photosynthesis, respiration, evapotranspiration), and to test optical metrics of ecosystem “health.” Methods include manual and automated sampling methods, including field spectrometry, harvest and phenology measurements, robotic sampling techniques, and eddy covariance. The project entails fieldwork at various sites in Canada, but also involves indoor work (processing samples and data). Most sites are representative ecosystems in Alberta (boreal forest, prairie, agricultural sites), but some limited visits to Arctic tundra sites (e.g. Churchill, Manitoba, or Daring Lake, NWT) may also be necessary. Primary skills include abilities to work well in a team or independently, tolerance of occasional long hours of fieldwork or labwork, often under difficult conditions (e.g. cold or hot weather). A good work ethic (personal integrity, hard work, and self-motivation) is critical. Basic computing and instrumentation skills are also a plus.
  2. Sampling Ecosystem Optical and Thermal Properties (1 student) – Combines skills in mechanical engineering, electronics, programming, and optics to monitor ecosystem surface optical and thermal properties using automated instruments mounted on robotic carts, automated tilting platforms, and fixed tripods or towers (see project #2). A background in mechanical, electrical, and/or computer engineering will be helpful.
  3. Remote Sensing of Ecosystem Function (1 student) – This project involves the use of satellite and aircraft data to analyze vegetation distribution, productivity, and biodiversity of terrestrial ecosystems. Skills involve image processing, GIS, and modeling, and field technical support (“ground truthing”). The project will compare modeled estimates (derived from remote sensing) to field estimates (see project 1).
  4. Data Entry and Database Programming (1 student) – This student will assist in data processing and analysis and data entry into databases, and will work with data from projects 1-3 (above). Basic computing or programming skills (Excel, Matlab, SQL) will be required.

Applicants should provide a cover letter summarizing interests and qualifications, a CV, 2 references and unofficial transcripts.

For more information, contact Dr. John Gamon, ph. 780-492-0345, email:

  • Gamon JA, Kershaw P, Williamson S, Hik D (2012) Microtopographic patterns in an arctic baydjarakh field: do fine-grain patterns enforce landscape stability? Environ. Res. Lett. 7 (2012) 015502. Available online at:
  • Sanchez-Azofeifa A, Oki Y, Fernandes GW, Ball RA, Gamon J (2011) Relationships between endophyte diversity and leaf optical properties. Trees – Structure and Function. DOI 10.1007/s00468-011-0591-5
  • Gamon, J.A. (2011) Linking flux measurements and remote sensing with field optical sampling. AsiaFlux Newsletter, Issue No. 33: 8-15. Available online at:
  • Gamon, JA (2010) Integrating Remote Sensing and Flux Measurements. FluxLetter, Vol 3(1):7-10. (FLUXNET newsletter, available online at:
  • Garbulsky MF, Peñuelas J, Gamon JA, Inoue Y, Filella I. (2010) The Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI) and the remote sensing of leaf, canopy and ecosystem radiation use efficiencies; a review and meta-analysis. Remote Sensing of Environment. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2010.08.023
  • Gamon JA, Coburn C, Flanagan L, Huemmrich KF, Kiddle C, Sanchez-Azofeifa GA, Thayer D, Vescovo L, Gianelle D, Sims D, Rahman AF, Zonta Pastorella G (2010) SpecNet revisited: bridging flux and remote sensing communities. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 36(Suppl. 2): S376–S390.
  • Goswami S, Gamon JA, Tweedie CE (2010) Surface hydrology of an arctic ecosystem: multi-scale analysis of a flooding and draining experiment using spectral reflectance. J. Geophys. Res., 116, G00I07, doi:10.1029/2010JG001346
  • Huemmrich KF, Kinoshita G, Gamon JA, Houston S, Kwon H, Oechel WC (2010) Tundra Carbon Balance Under Varying Temperature and Moisture Regimes. Journal of Geophysical Research. 115, G00I02, doi:10.1029/2009JG001237, 2010
  • Ustin SL, Gamon JA (2010) Remote sensing of plant functional types. New Phytologist. 186: 795–816
  • KF Huemmrich, JA Gamon, CE Tweedie, SF Oberbauer,  G Kinoshita, S Houston, A Kuchy, RD Hollister, H Kwon, M Mano, Y Harazono, PJ Webber, WC Oechel (2010) 'Remote sensing of tundra gross ecosystem productivity and light  efficiency under varying temperature and moisture conditions'.  Remote Sensing of Environment.  114(3):481-489.
  • Quesada M, Sanchez-Azofeifa G, Alvarez-Anorve M, Stoner KE, Avila-Cabadilla L, Calvo-Alvarado J, Castillo A, Espiritu-Santo MM, Fagundes M, Fernandes GW, Gamon J, Lopezaraiza-Mikel M, Lawrence D, Morellato P, Powers J, Neves F, Rosas-Guerrero V, Sayago R, Sanchez-Montoya G (2009) 'Succession and management of tropical dry forests in the Americas: Review and new perspectives'.  Forest Ecology and Management. 258:1014-1024.
  • Sanchez –Azofeifa G, Castro K, Wright SJ, Gamon J, Rivard B, Kalacska M, Schnitzer S (2009) 'Differences in leaf traits, leaf internal structure, and spectral reflectance between two communities of lianas and trees : Implications for remote sensing in tropical environments'. Remote Sensing of Environment. 113:2076-2088
  • Ustin SL, Gitelson AA, Jacquemoud S, Schaepman ME, Asner GP, Gamon JA, Zarco-Tejada P (2009) 'Retrieval of Foliar Information about Plant Pigment Systems from High Resolution Spectroscopy', Remote Sensing of Environment. 113:S67-77.
  • Gamon, J.A., Qiu, H-L, Sanchez-Azofeifa, A. (2007). 'Ecological Applications of Remote Sensing at Multiple Scales'. IN: Pugnaire, F.I., Valladares, F. (eds.) Plant Functional Ecology, 2nd ed., CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl., 655-684.
  • Stitch, S., McGuire, A.D., Kimball, J., Gedney, N., Gamon, J., Engstrom, R., Wolf, A. and Zhuang, Q. 2007. 'Assessing the circumpolar carbon balance of arctic tundra with remote sensing and process-based modeling approaches'. Ecological Application 17: 213-234.
  • Gamon, J.A., Rahman, A.F., Dungan, J.L.O., Schedhauer, M., Huemmrich, K.F. 2006. 'Spectral Network (SpecNet): what is it and why do we need it?' Remote Sensing of Environment 103: 227-235.
  • Gamon, J.A., Cheng, Y., Claudio, H., MacKinney, L., Sims, D. 2006. 'A mobile tram system for systematic sampling ecosystem optical properties'. Remote Sensing of Environment 103: 246-254.
  • Ustin, S.L., Roberts, D.A., Gamon, J.A., Asner, G.P., Green, R.O. 2004. 'Using imaging spectroscopy to study ecosystem processes and properties'. BioScience 54(6): 523-533.
Research Interests

Dr. Gamon studies the "breathing of the planet" - the exchanges of carbon and water vapour between the biosphere and the atmosphere that affect ecosystem productivity and help regulate our atmosphere and climate. Of particular interest are the effects of disturbance (fires, succession, weather events and climate change) on these basic processes. Additional research questions involve the detection of plant physiology, ecosystem function, species composition, and biodiversity using non-contact sampling methods. Much of this work is done with optical monitoring (remote sensing and automated field methods), and entails the development of new monitoring methods and related informatics tools.

To encourage wider usage of these methods, Dr. Gamon co-founded SpecNet, (Spectral Network), a network of collaborating sites and investigators using optical sampling methods (particularly spectral reflectance) to studying ecological questions. He conducts fieldwork in a range of ecosystems from the Arctic to the Tropics.

Research area
  • Disturbance effects on ecosystem function
  • Climate change impacts in northern latitude ecosystems
  • Remote sensing for sampling terrestrial ecosystem composition and function
  • Detecting plant biochemical responses with non-contact optical methods 
  • Plant ecophysiology, particularly related to photosynthesis and environmental stress
  • Eco-informatics and Cyberinfrastructure for ecosystem monitoring
Research Opportunities

I welcome inquiries from students interested in ecology (ecophysiology, ecosystems ecology), remote sensing, ecosystem modeling and eco-informatics and cyberinfrastructure.