Dr Mariela Soto-Berelov is a post-doctoral research fellow in remote sensing. Her research interests include environmental geography; land use change science (LUCC); and the characterisation of vegetation at a landscape scale. Mariela uses GIS, RS, air photo interpretation, and vegetation mapping/modelling as tools that aid such research.
Since being at RMIT, Dr Soto-Berelov has been involved in several state and national projects that seek to characterise forest ecosystems and/or validate vegetation products derived from Earth Observation satellites at the landscape scale.
Mariela is an Environmental Geographer, specializing in Remote Sensing, spatial analysis, and land-use change science (LUCC). She is fascinated by how the earth’s surface is constantly changing as a result of both human and natural causes, and finds herself fortunate to live in a time that offers a wide variety of tools and technologies with which to map and understand these changes. Within LUCC, Mariela has specialized in landscape scale processes that impact vegetated surfaces (ranging from long term climatic changes to abrupt fire events) and worked in the tropics, Mediterranean region, throughout Australia, in the North American Southwest, and in the Caribbean. At the moment, Mariela is validating two coarse resolution burnt area products (AVHRR and MODIS) across Australia’s Southern Forests.
Since 2011 Mariela has been working at the
Mariela has recently been validating coarse resolution burnt area products (MODIS and AVHRR) across all of Australia’s Southern Forests using state fire history datasets. She has been analyzing the accuracy of these products when considering the type of fire (planned versus unplanned), land tenure, vegetation structure, and size of fire.
Mariela is also one of the key representatives of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network’s Melbourne AusCover node. Her involvement consists of actively coordinating and participating in field based calibration and validation activities (across Australia) of biophysical products derived from coarse resolution satellite imagery. Mariela is also the lead coordinator as well as editor and co-author of several chapters of a technical handbook (AusCover Good Practice Guidelines: A technical handbook supporting calibration and validation activities of remotely sensed data products) that collects guidelines from the Australian scientific community for the calibration and validation of biophysical products in Australia.
Mariela has also participated in a CRC project (CRC-SI 2.07) through field work and research. In addition, she is leading a review paper of remote sensing techniques for large area forest characterization along with land managers from various states and academics that will be published in Southern Forests: A Journal of Forest Science. In addition, she participated in the Victorian state wide woody vegetation mapping project (through air photo interpretation), which was a key component of the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s 2008 State of the Forest Report. She designed and implemented the validation phase of this land cover map.
Previous to her current role, Mariela was was a Research Assistant at Arizona State University’s Department of Geographical Sciences (2007-2010). She worked as an RA for the Mediterranean Landscape Dynamics Project (NSF Grant # 0410269), an interdisciplinary project that used the Mediterranean Basin as a laboratory to study the socio-ecological processes that shaped the Mediterranean landscape from the beginning of farming to the beginning of complex civilization (ca 10,000 – 1,200 BCE). Her role in this project, which formed the basis of her doctoral thesis, involved the mapping and modelling of vegetation in the southern Levant during the last 10,000 years. She also did field work in Jordan to collect vegetation observations to implement in the modelling (March-April, 2010). Partial results were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science (Soto-Berelov et al. 2015).
From 2000-2001, Mariela worked as a RA in the grant “Dynamics of tropical deforestation in the Western Amazon, 1986-1996” funded by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Wildlife Conservation Society, and EcoCiencia. She was in charge of mapping deforestation throughout the Ecuadorian, Brazilian, and Peruvian Amazon region using remote sensing applications. During this time, she also participated in the Sustainable Uses of Bio-Resources (SUBIR) Project, coordinated by ASU and two Ecuadorian agencies that promote environmental conservation and education (EcoCiencia and Jatun Sacha). She was also involved in field work in the Northwestern Ecuadorian Chocó region to investigate the impact of various forms of mechanized and non-mechanized technologies used for forest clearing. Part of the tasks involved were conducting vegetation transects, measuring biodiversity and mapping deforestation gaps.
Part of Mariela's time is devoted to lecturing students in remote sensing (RSP1, RS, RSP2). Her level of involvement has varied from guest lecturing to being course coordinator and lead lecturer. She has also supervised students at the Honours level and helped organise conferences and department sponsored activities. The rest of her time is spent attending several research projects for state and federal agencies (Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information; Terrestrial Ecological Research Network, Department of The Environment). All of these projects revolve around characterising forests at a landscape scale using remote sensing and/or validating vegetation products derived from Earth Observation satellite imagery.
Mariela has also worked as a GIS/RS specialist for government and industry. From 2009 to 2010 she worked for the then called Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries Victoria. Her role was to perform historical seagrass mapping as part of the Baywide Seagrass Monitoring Program which assesses the health of seagrass species in the Port Phillip Bay. A total of six regions were mapped in detail from 1939 to 1999 using aerial photographs that were digitally scanned and orthorectified. For the mapping, a series of steps were done using ENVI software. The study shows that seagrass cover has been extremely dynamic from site to site and throughout the study period. Nevertheless and at present, most sites have experienced a dramatic decrease in seagrass cover. The research findings were presented at an international conference (ISPRS, 2012) and published in the Journal of Coastal Conservation (Ball et al. 2014).
Mariela also worked for United Research Services (URS) in Melbourne, Victoria and Phoenix, Arizona during 2002-2005. She was involved in multiple GIS projects for private industry, the military (site remediation projects), and government agencies (various catchment management authorities and the Marray Darling Basin Authority). Some of her tasks included data collection; creation and manipulation of spatial data; database design and implementation; geostatistical analysis; remote sensing; aerial photographic interpreta¬tion; cartography; GPS; visualization and creation of electronic read-only interactive maps. Mariela was also involved in scoping budgets, writing proposals and reports. In addition, she served as an expert witness in a site remediation court case in Victoria, Australia.
- Woodgate, W.,Armston, J.,Disney, M.,Jones, S.,Suarez, L.,Hill, M.,Wilkes, P.,Soto-Berelov, M. (2016). Quantifying the impact of woody material on leaf area index estimation from hemispherical photography using 3D canopy simulations In: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 226-227, 1 - 12
- Wilkes, P.,Jones, S.,Suarez, L.,Haywood, A.,Mellor, A.,Woodgate, W.,Soto-Berelov, M.,Skidmore, A. (2016). Using discrete-return airborne laser scanning to quantify number of canopy strata across diverse forest types In: Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 700 - 712
- Soto-Berelov, M.,Fall, P.,Falconer, S.,Ridder, E. (2015). Modeling vegetation dynamics in the Southern Levant through the Bronze Age In: Journal of Archaeological Science, 53, 94 - 109
- Woodgate, W.,Jones, S.,Suarez, L.,Hill, M.,Armston, J.,Wilkes, P.,Soto-Berelov, M.,Haywood, A.,Mellor, A. (2015). Understanding the variability in ground-based methods for retrieving canopy openness, gap fraction, and leaf area index in diverse forest systems In: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 205, 83 - 95
- Woodgate, W.,Disney, M.,Armston, J.,Jones, S.,Suarez, L.,Hill, M.,Wilkes, P.,Soto-Berelov, M.,Haywood, A.,Mellor, A. (2015). An improved theoretical model of canopy gap probability for Leaf Area Index estimation in woody ecosystems In: Forest Ecology and Management, 358, 303 - 320
- Wilkes, P.,Jones, S.,Suarez Barranco, M.,Mellor, A.,Woodgate, W.,Soto-Berelov, M.,Haywood, A.,Skidmore, A. (2015). Mapping forest canopy height across large areas by upscaling ALS estimates with freely available satellite data In: Remote Sensing, 7, 12563 - 12587
- Wilkes, P.,Jones, S.,Su�rez Barranco, L.,Haywood, A.,Woodgate, W.,Soto-Berelov, M.,Mellor, A.,Skidmore, A. (2015). Understanding the effects of als pulse density for metric retrieval across diverse forest types In: Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 81, 625 - 635
- Ball, D.,Soto-Berelov, M.,Young, P. (2014). Historical seagrass mapping in Port Phillip Bay, Australia In: Journal of Coastal Conservation, 18, 257 - 272
- Farmer, E.,Jones, S.,Clarke, M.,Buxton, L.,Soto-Berelov, M.,Page, S.,Mellor, A.,Haywood, A. (2013). Creating a large area landcover dataset for public land monitoring and reporting In: Progress in Geospatial Science Research, Melbourne, Australia, 12-14 December 2011
- Soto-Berelov, M.,Edsall, R. (2013). Understanding the dynamics of land-cover changes occurring in the Puerto Rico karst In: Progress in Geospatial Science Research, Melbourne, Australia, 12-14 December 2011
3 PhD Current Supervisions