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Fabian Faßnacht

Dr. Fabian Faßnacht

Research, Teaching
Group: Vegetation
Room: Geb. 10.50, Raum 816
Phone: +49 721 608-43828
fabian fassnachtHdx3∂kit edu

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Institut für Geographie und Geoökologie
Kaiserstr. 12
76131 Karlsruhe

Fabian Faßnacht

Remote sensing of vegetation ecosystems


  • Tree species composition classification and mapping
  • Estimation of aboveground forest biomass form multi-sensor remote sensing data
  • Remote sensing based assessment of grassland dynamics on the Tibetan plateau
  • Application of machine learning methods in the context of remote sensing data
  • Forest disturbance identification with optical remote sensing data

Curriculum vitae

2017 Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s Fellowship: Research stay at the CAS Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Xining, China
2015 Fulbright scholarship: Research stay at the Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA
2014 Research assistant (Postdoc) at the IfGG at the KIT
2012 Research visit at the “Laboratorio de Geomática y Ecología del Paisaje”, Universidad de Chile, Chile.
2010-2013 PhD student at the Professorship for Remote Sensing and Landscape Information Systems, University of Freiburg. Title of the dissertation: “Assessing the potential of imaging spectroscopy data to map tree species composition and bark beetle-related tree mortality”.
2009 Diploma in forestry sciences, University of Freiburg
2003 Abitur in Weingarten

Editorial tasks

Associate editor with Forestry (Oxford University Press) (since 2016)
Associate editor with the European Journal of Remote Sensing (Taylor & Francis) (2016-2017)



GIS (Verfahrenskurs GIS), Cartography (Verfahrenskurs Kartographie), Environmental monitoring with remote sensing (Methoden der Umweltforschung 2), Scientific writing (Naturwissenschaftliche Arbeitsweisen), Berufspraktikum

Vor 2015: Masterprojekt Schwarzwald, Klimafolgenforschung 3, Geographische Exkursionen, Kartographie


Contributions in peer-reviewed journals
2020Kattenborn, T., Eichel, J., Wiser, S. K., Burrows, L., Fassnacht, F. E., Schmidtlein, S. (2020): Convolutional Neural Networks accurately predict cover fractions of plant species and communities in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle imagery. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation (RSEC). Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1002/rse2.146 PDF

Senn, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Eichel, J., Seitz, S., Schmidtlein, S. (2020): A new concept for estimating the influence of vegetation on throughfall kinetic energy using aerial laser scanning. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 10.1002/esp.4820

2019Fassnacht, F. E., Schiller, C., Kattenborn, T., Zhao, X., Qu, J. (2019): A Landsat-based vegetation trend product of the Tibetan Plateau for the time-period 1990–2018. Scientific Data 6(Artikel 78). Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1038/s41597-019-0075-9

Kattenborn, T., Eichel, J., Fassnacht, F. E. (2019): Convolutional Neural Networks enable efficient, accurate and fine-grained segmentation of plant species and communities from high-resolution UAV imagery. Nature Scientific Reports 9, pp. 17656. Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1038/s41598-019-53797-9 PDF

Kattenborn, T., Lopatin, J., Förster, M., Braun, A. C., Fassnacht, F. E. (2019): UAV data as alternative to field sampling to map woody invasive species based on combined Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data. Remote Sensing of Environment 227, pp. 61–73. 10.1016/j.rse.2019.03.025 PDF

Lopatin, J., Dolos, K., Kattenborn, T., Fassnacht, F. E. (2019): How canopy shadow affects invasive plant species classification in high spatial resolution remote sensing. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, pp. 1–16. Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1002/rse2.109 PDF

Modzelewska, A., Fassnacht, F. E., Sterenczak, K. (2019): Tree Species Identification within an extensive forest area with diverse management regimes using airborne hyperspectral data. International Journal of Applied Earth Observations and Geoinformation, pp. 1–12.

Sterenczak, K., Mielcarek, M., Modzelewska, A., Kraszewski, B., Fassnacht, F. E., Hilszczański, J. (2019): Intra-annual Ips typographus outbreak monitoring using multi-temporal GIS analysis based on hyperspectral and ALS data in the BiałowieżaForests. Forest Ecology and Management 442, pp. 105–116. 10.1016/j.foreco.2019.03.064 PDF

2018Araya-López, R. A., Lopatin, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Hernández, H. J. (2018): Monitoring Andean high altitude wetlands in central Chile with seasonal optical data: A comparison between Worldview-2 and Sentinel-2 imagery. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 145(Part B), pp. 213–224. 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2018.04.001

Ewald, M., Aerts, R., Lenoir, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Nicolas, M., Skowronek, S., Piat, J., Honnay, O., Garzón-López, C. X., Feilhauer, H., Van de Kerchove, R., Somers, B., Hattab, T., Rocchini, D., Schmidtlein, S. (2018): LIDAR derived forest structure data improves predictions of canopy N and P concentrations from imaging spectroscopy. Remote Sensing of Environment 211, pp. 13–25. 10.1016/j.rse.2018.03.038

Fassnacht, F. E., Latifi, H., Hartig, F. (2018): Using synthetic data to evaluate the benefits of large field plots for forest biomass estimation with LiDAR. Remote Sensing of Environment 213, pp. 115–128. 10.1016/j.rse.2018.05.007

Kattenborn, T., Fassnacht, F. E., Schmidtlein, S. (2018): Differentiating plant functional types using reflectance: Which traits make the difference? Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 5(1). Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1002/rse2.86 PDF

Kattenborn, T., Hernández, J., Lopatin, J., Kattenborn, G., Fassnacht, F. E. (2018): Pilot study on the retrieval of DBH and diameter distribution of deciduous forest stands using cast shadows in UAV-based orthomosaics. ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, pp. 93–99. Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.5194/isprs-annals-IV-1-93-2018 PDF

Piiroinen, R., Fassnacht, F. E., Heiskanen, J., Maeda, E., Mack, B., Pellikka, P. (2018): Invasive tree species detection in the Eastern Arc Mountains biodiversity hotspot using one class classification. Remote Sensing of Environment 218, pp. 119–131. 10.1016/j.rse.2018.09.018 PDF

Teltscher, K., Fassnacht, F. E. (2018): Using multispectral landsat and sentinel-2 satellite data to investigate vegetation change at Mount St. Helens since the great volcanic eruption in 1980. Journal of Mountain Science 15(9), pp. 1851–1867. 10.1007/s11629-018-4869-6

2017Delgado-Aguilar, M. J., Fassnacht, F. E., Peralvo, M., Gross, C. P., Schmitt, C. B. (2017): Potential of TerraSAR-X and Sentinel 1 imagery to map deforested areas and derive degradation status in complex rain forests of Ecuador. International Forestry Review 19(1), pp. 102–118. 10.1505/146554817820888636

Fassnacht, F. E., Mangold, D., Schäfer, J., Immitzer, M., Kattenborn, T., Koch, B., Latifi, H. (2017): Estimating stand density, biomass and tree species from very high resolution stereo-imagery – towards an all-in-one sensor for forestry applications? Forestry 90, pp. 613–631. 10.1093/forestry/cpx014 PDF

Kattenborn, T., Fassnacht, F. E., Pierce, S., Lopatin, J., Grime, J. P., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Linking plant strategies and plant traits derived by radiative transfer modelling. Journal of Vegetation Science 28, pp. 717–727. 10.1111/jvs.12525

Li, L., Fassnacht, F. E., Storch, I., Bürgi, M. (2017): Land-use regime shift triggered the recent degradation of alpine pastures in Nyanpo Yutse of the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Landscape Ecology 32(11), pp. 2187–2203. 10.1007/s10980-017-0510-2 PDF

Lopatin, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Kattenborn, T., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Mapping plant species in mixed grassland communities using close range imaging spectroscopy. Remote Sensing of Environment 201, pp. 12–23. 10.1016/j.rse.2017.08.031 PDF

Schmidt, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Förster, M., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Synergetic use of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 for assessments of heathland conservation status. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 4, pp. 225–239. Unter den Bedingungen von Open Access verfügbar 10.1002/rse2.68 PDF

Schmidt, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Lausch, A., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Assessing the functional signature of heathland landscapes via hyperspectral remote sensing. Ecological Indicators 73, pp. 505–512. 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.10.017

Schmidt, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Neff, C., Lausch, A., Kleinschmit, B., Förster, M., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Adapting a Natura 2000 field guideline for a remote sensing-based assessment of heathland conservation status. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 60, pp. 61–71. 10.1016/j.jag.2017.04.005 PDF

Schmidtlein, S., Fassnacht, F. E. (2017): The spectral variability hypothesis does not hold across landscapes. Remote Sensing of Environment 192, pp. 114–125. 10.1016/j.rse.2017.01.036

Stavros, E. N., Schimel, D., Pavlick, R., Serbin, S., Swann, A., Duncanson, L., Fisher, J. B., Fassnacht, F. E., Ustin, S., Dubayah, R., Schweiger, A., Wennberg, P. (2017): ISS observations offer insights into plant function. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 10.1038/s41559-017-0194

Stenzel, S., Fassnacht, F. E., Mack, B., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Identification of high nature value grassland with remote sensing and minimal field data. Ecological Indicators 74, pp. 28–38. 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.11.005

2016Fassnacht, F. E., Latifi, H., Sterenczak, K., Modzelewska, A., Lefsky, M., Waser, L. T., Straub, C., Ghosh, A. (2016): Review of studies on tree species classification from remotely sensed data. Remote Sensing of Environment 186, pp. 64–87. 10.1016/j.rse.2016.08.013 PDF

Lopatin, J., Dolos, K., Hernández, J., Galleguillos, M., Fassnacht, F. E. (2016): Comparing Generalized Linear Models and random forest to model vascular plant species richness using LiDAR data in a natural forest in central Chile. Remote Sensing of Environment 173, pp. 200–210. 10.1016/j.rse.2015.11.029

2015Fassnacht, F. E., Li, L., Fritz, A. (2015): Mapping degraded grassland on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau with multi-temporal Landsat 8 data - where do the severely degraded areas occur? International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 42, pp. 115–127. 10.1016/j.jag.2015.06.005

Fassnacht, F. E., Stenzel, S., Gitelson, A. A. (2015): Non-destructive estimation of foliar carotenoid content of tree species using merged vegetation indices. Journal of Plant Physiology 176. 10.1016/j.jplph.2014.11.003 PDF

Kattenborn, T., Maack, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Enßle, F., Ermert, J., Koch, B. (2015): Mapping forest biomass from space – Fusion of hyperspectral EO1-hyperion data and Tandem-X and WorldView-2 canopy height models. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 35, pp. 359–367. 10.1016/j.jag.2014.10.008 PDF

Latifi, H., Fassnacht, F. E., Hartig, F., Berger, C., Hernández, J., Corvalán, P., Koch, B. (2015): Stratified aboveground forest biomass estimation by remote sensing data. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 38, pp. 229–241. 10.1016/j.jag.2015.01.016

Latifi, H., Fassnacht, F. E., Müller, J., Tharani, A., Dech, S., Heurich, M. (2015): Forest inventories by LiDAR data: A comparison of single tree segmentation and metric-based methods for inventories of a heterogeneous temperate forest. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 42, pp. 162–174. 10.1016/j.jag.2015.06.008 PDF

Lopatin, J., Galleguillos, M., Fassnacht, F. E., Ceballos, A., Hernández, J. (2015): Using a Multistructural Object-Based LiDAR Approach to Estimate Vascular Plant Richness in Mediterranean Forests With Complex Structure. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters 12(5), pp. 1–5. 10.1109/LGRS.2014.2372875 PDF

Maack, J., Kattenborn, T., Fassnacht, F. E., Enßle, F., Hernández, J., Corvalán, P., Koch, B. (2015): Modeling forest biomass using Very-High-Resolution data - Combining textural, spectral and photogrammetric predictors derived from spaceborne stereo images. European Journal of Remote Sensing 48, pp. 245–261. PDF

2014Fassnacht, F. E., Hartig, F., Latifi, H., Berger, C., Hernández, J., Corvalán, P., Koch, B. (2014): Importance of sample size, data type and prediction method for remote sensing-based estimations of aboveground forest biomass. Remote Sensing of Environment 154, pp. 102–114. 10.1016/j.rse.2014.07.028 PDF

Fassnacht, F. E., Latifi, H., Ghosh, A., Joshi, P. K., Koch, B. (2014): Assessing the potential of hyperspectral imagery to map bark beetle-induced tree mortality. Remote Sensing of Environment 140, pp. 533–548. 10.1016/j.rse.2013.09.014

Fassnacht, F. E., Neumann, C., Förster, M., Buddenbaum, H., Ghosh, A., Clasen, A., Joshi, P. K., Koch, B. (2014): Comparison of Feature Reduction Algorithms for Classifying Tree Species With Hyperspectral Data on Three Central European Test Sites. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing (J-STARS) 7(6), pp. 2547–2561. 10.1109/JSTARS.2014.2329390

Ghosh, A., Fassnacht, F. E., Joshi, P. K., Koch, B. (2014): A framework for mapping tree species combining Hyperspectral and LiDAR data: role of selected classifiers and sensor across three spatial scales. International Journal of Applied Earth Observations and Geoinformation 26, pp. 49–63.

Latifi, H., Fassnacht, F. E., Schumann, B., Dech, S. (2014): Object-based extraction of bark beetle (Ips typographus L.) infestations using multi-date LANDSAT and SPOT satellite imagery. Progress in Physical Geography. 10.1177/0309133314550670

Valencia Delgado, D., Hernández, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Cortez Serey, L., Lopatin, J., Corvalán, P. (2014): Estimation of aerial biomass using discrete-wave LiDAR data in combination with different vegetation indices in plantations of Pinus radiata (D. DON), Región del Maule, Chile. Sustainability, Agri, Food and Environmental Research 2(3), pp. 30–49.

2012Fassnacht, F. E., Koch, B. (2012): Review on forestry oriented multi-angular remote sensing techniques. International Forestry Review 14(2), pp. 1–14.

Fassnacht, F. E., Latifi, H., Koch, B. (2012): An angular vegetation index for imaging spectroscopy data – Preliminary results on forest damage detection in the Bavarian National Park, Germany. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 19, pp. 308–321. 10.1016/j.jag.2012.05.018

Latifi, H., Fassnacht, F. E., Koch, B. (2012): Forest structure modeling with combined airborne hyperspectral and LiDAR data. Remote Sensing of Environment 121, pp. 10–25.

Contributions in journals and series (not peer-reviewed)
2015Fassnacht, F. E., Kattenborn, T. (2015): Von Flughunden und Drohnen. Forum der Geoökologie 26, pp. 15–18.

Conference Proceedings
2017Lopatin, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Kattenborn, T., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Hyperspectral classification of grassland species: towards a UAS application for semi-automatic field surveys. Presented at EGU, Vienna, Austria, 08-13 April. Oral presentation. 10.13140/RG.2.2.25184.79361

Lopatin, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Kattenborn, T., Galleguillos, M., Jorge, P., Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Mapping peatland carbon stock: a structural equation modeling approach. Presented at IAVS, Palermo, Italy, 20-24 June. Oral presentation. 10.13140/rg.2.2.15118.46406 PDF

2015Lopatin, J., Galleguillos, M., Hernández, J., Ceballos, A., Fassnacht, F. E. (2015): An Object-based LiDAR Approach to Estimate Vascular Plant Richness in Mediterranean Forest with Complex Structure. Presented at IGARSS (International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium), Milan, Italy, 27-31 July. Oral presentation.

Lopatin, J., Dolos, K., Hernández, J., Galleguillos, M., Fassnacht, F. E. (2015): Comparing generalized linear models and random forest to model vascular plant species richness using LiDAR data in a natural forest in central Chile. Presented at SilviLaser, La Grande-Motte, France, 28 sep-2 oct. Oral presentation.