Interannual variability of NDVI and its relationship to climate for North American shrublands and grasslands
Paruelo, J.M.; Lauenroth, W.K.
Journal of Biogeography 25(4): 721-733
ISSN/ISBN: 0305-0270 DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2699.1998.2540721.x
Our objective was to analyse the interannual variability of different characteristics of the seasonal dynamics of NDVI and their relationships with climatic variables for grassland and shrubland sites of North America. We selected twenty-five sites located in relatively undisturbed areas. We analysed the variability of seven traits derived from the annual dynamics of the NDVI at each site: the annual integral, the difference between maximum and minimum NDVI, the dates of the inflection points of a double logistic model fitted to the NDVI curve, the difference between these dates, the date of maximum NDVI, and the coefficient of determination of the double logistic model. The temporal variability of traits that integrated aspects of primary productivity over the year was lower than those related to seasonality. This suggests that from year to year, grassland and shrubland ecosystems would differ more in the timing of production and senescence than in the total amount of carbon fixed. The integral of NDVI showed less temporal variability than annual precipitation. The coefficient of variation of both precipitation and the NDVI integral were positively related. The slope of the relationship was significantly lower than 1, indicating that the variability of ecosystem function is a lower proportion of the variability of annual precipitation in areas with a high relative variability of this climatic variable than in areas of low variability. The variability of most of the NDVI traits analysed showed a negative and, in general, non-linear relationship with annual precipitation. The same kind of relationship has been reported elsewhere for annual precipitation and its coefficient of variation. Mean annual precipitation has been reported as the main control of above-ground net primary production in grassland and shrubland ecosystems. Our results suggest that this climatic variable is also associated with the interannual variability of carbon gains, such as the primary production and its seasonality.