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Open Access Temporal profiles of vegetation indices for characterizing grazing intensity on natural grasslands in Pampa biome

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ABSTRACT The Pampa biome is an important ecosystem in Brazil that is highly relevant to livestock production. The objective of this study was to analyze the potential use of vegetation indices to discriminate grazing intensities on natural grasslands in the Pampa biome. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) images from Jan to Dec, 2000 to 2013 series, were analyzed for natural grassland experimental units managed under high (forage allowance of 5 ± 2 % live weight – LW), moderate (13 ± 5 % LW) and low grazing intensity (19 ± 7 % LW). Regardless of intensity, the temporal profiles showed lower NDVI and EVI during winter, increased values in spring because of summer species regrowth, slightly decreased values in summer, especially in years when there is a water deficit, and increased values in the fall associated with the beginning of winter forage development. The average temporal profiles of moderate grazing intensity exhibited greater vegetation index values compared with low and high grazing intensities. The temporal profiles of less vegetation index were associated with lower green biomass accumulation caused by the negative impact of stocking rates on the leaf area index under high grazing intensity and a floristic composition with a predominance of tussocks under low grazing intensity. Vegetation indices can be used for distinguishing moderate grazing intensity from low and high intensities. The average EVI values can discriminate moderate grazing intensity during any season, and the NDVI values can discriminate moderate grazing intensity during spring and winter.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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