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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(6), 477; doi:10.3390/rs8060477

Examination of Abiotic Drivers and Their Influence on Spartina alterniflora Biomass over a Twenty-Eight Year Period Using Landsat 5 TM Satellite Imagery of the Central Georgia Coast

1
Department of Atmospheric Science, Creighton University, Omaha, NE 68178, USA
2
Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, NE 68178, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Deepak R. Mishra, Richard W. Gould and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 12 April 2016 / Revised: 20 May 2016 / Accepted: 27 May 2016 / Published: 4 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Coastal Environments)
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Abstract

We examined the influence of abiotic drivers on inter-annual and phenological patterns of aboveground biomass for Marsh Cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, on the Central Georgia Coast. The linkages between drivers and plant response via soil edaphic factors are captured in our graphical conceptual model. We used geospatial techniques to scale up in situ measurements of aboveground S. alterniflora biomass to landscape level estimates using 294 Landsat 5 TM scenes acquired between 1984 and 2011. For each scene we extracted data from the same 63 sampling polygons, containing 1222 pixels covering about 1.1 million m2. Using univariate and multiple regression tests, we compared Landsat derived biomass estimates for three S. alterniflora size classes against a suite of abiotic drivers. River discharge, total precipitation, minimum temperature, and mean sea level had positive relationships with and best explained biomass for all dates. Additional results, using seasonally binned data, indicated biomass was responsive to changing combinations of variables across the seasons. Our 28-year analysis revealed aboveground biomass declines of 33%, 35%, and 39% for S. alterniflora tall, medium, and short size classes, respectively. This decline correlated with drought frequency and severity trends and coincided with marsh die-backs events and increased snail herbivory in the second half of the study period. View Full-Text
Keywords: coastal remote sensing; salt marsh ecology; vegetation stress; ecosystem health; Spartina alterniflora; Landsat 5 TM; long-term data; climate forcing; river discharge; sea level coastal remote sensing; salt marsh ecology; vegetation stress; ecosystem health; Spartina alterniflora; Landsat 5 TM; long-term data; climate forcing; river discharge; sea level
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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

O’Donnell, J.P.R.; Schalles, J.F. Examination of Abiotic Drivers and Their Influence on Spartina alterniflora Biomass over a Twenty-Eight Year Period Using Landsat 5 TM Satellite Imagery of the Central Georgia Coast. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 477.

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