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Estimating the relative abundance of C3 and C4 grasses in the Great Plains from multi-temporal MTCI data: issues of compositing period and spatial generalizability

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Accommodating for the differences between grasses following the C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways in environmental research often requires information on their spatial distribution and relative abundance. Multi-temporal remote sensing may indicate the latter because these grasses have asynchronous phenologies. The relationship between remotely sensed variables and grassland composition, defined by C3(%), was explored with attention focused on two key issues associated with studies of large areas from multi-temporal datasets: the compositing period used and spatial generalizability of a selected relationship. MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index (MTCI) composites of the Great Plains were generated using compositing periods of 5, 7, 10 and 14 days. The results of a regression analysis indicated that a relationship between MTCI data and grassland composition may be formulated for the State of South Dakota with R2 ∼0.6. The strength of the relationship was, generally, strongest for short compositing periods. The transferability of the relationship to other regions was, however, limited by its significant non-stationarity indicating a challenge for large area studies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, UK 2: School of Geography, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, UK

Publication date: 01 March 2010

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