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Sensors 2016, 16(11), 1948; doi:10.3390/s16111948

Extracting Plant Phenology Metrics in a Great Basin Watershed: Methods and Considerations for Quantifying Phenophases in a Cold Desert

1
USDA-ARS, Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit, Reno, NV 89512, USA
2
Environmental Protection Agency of Aosta Valley, ARPA Valle d’Aosta, Climate Change Unit, Saint-christophe 11020, Italy
3
Western Regional Climate Center, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512, USA
4
Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Veterinary Science, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Assefa M. Melesse
Received: 26 September 2016 / Revised: 9 November 2016 / Accepted: 15 November 2016 / Published: 18 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [14780 KB, uploaded 18 November 2016]   |  

Abstract

Plant phenology is recognized as important for ecological dynamics. There has been a recent advent of phenology and camera networks worldwide. The established PhenoCam Network has sites in the United States, including the western states. However, there is a paucity of published research from semi-arid regions. In this study, we demonstrate the utility of camera-based repeat digital imagery and use of R statistical phenopix package to quantify plant phenology and phenophases in four plant communities in the semi-arid cold desert region of the Great Basin. We developed an automated variable snow/night filter for removing ephemeral snow events, which allowed fitting of phenophases with a double logistic algorithm. We were able to detect low amplitude seasonal variation in pinyon and juniper canopies and sagebrush steppe, and characterize wet and mesic meadows in area-averaged analyses. We used individual pixel-based spatial analyses to separate sagebrush shrub canopy pixels from interspace by determining differences in phenophases of sagebrush relative to interspace. The ability to monitor plant phenology with camera-based images fills spatial and temporal gaps in remotely sensed data and field based surveys, allowing species level relationships between environmental variables and phenology to be developed on a fine time scale thus providing powerful new tools for land management. View Full-Text
Keywords: StarDot cameras; PhenoCam network; pinyon and juniper; sagebrush steppe; semi-arid meadows; camera-based repeat digital photography StarDot cameras; PhenoCam network; pinyon and juniper; sagebrush steppe; semi-arid meadows; camera-based repeat digital photography
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Snyder, K.A.; Wehan, B.L.; Filippa, G.; Huntington, J.L.; Stringham, T.K.; Snyder, D.K. Extracting Plant Phenology Metrics in a Great Basin Watershed: Methods and Considerations for Quantifying Phenophases in a Cold Desert. Sensors 2016, 16, 1948.

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