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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(8), 635;

Contrasting Responses of Planted and Natural Forests to Drought Intensity in Yunnan, China

1,2,* , 1,2
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Ministry of Civil Affairs Ministry of Education, Beijing 100875, China
School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
College of Environment and Resource, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350108, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Alfredo R. Huete and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 14 February 2016 / Revised: 11 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 1 August 2016
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In recent decades, the area and proportion of planted forests have increased; thus, understanding the responses of planted and natural forests to drought are crucial because it forms the basis for forest risk assessments and management strategies. In this study, we combined the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) enhanced vegetation index (EVI), meteorological aridity indices, and standardized precipitation evapotranspiration indices (SPEI) to identify the drought responses of planted and natural forests. In particular, we used the EVI standard anomaly (ESA) as a physiological drought indicator and analyzed the applicability of SPEIs at time scales of 1–30 months, thereby determining the optimal time scale for the SPEI (SPEIopt), i.e., the SPEI that best represents the drought responses of forests in Yunnan. Next, we employed the optimal SPEI and the ESA as indices to statistically analyze the response characteristics of planted and natural forests under different drought intensities. The results indicated the following: (1) The SPEI in June and a time scale of five months (i.e., SPEIJun,5) comprise the optimal meteorological aridity indicator for forests in Yunnan Province, which had the strongest correlation with the EVI standard anomaly (ESAJun). (2) All forest types were affected by drought in Yunnan, but their responses varied according to the forest type, elevation, and drought intensity. In general, natural forests are more vulnerable and sensitive to drought than planted forests, especially natural coniferous forests at low (0–2000 m) and moderate (2000–4000 m) altitudes, and natural mixed forest at low altitudes (0–2000 m). (3) The remote sensing-based ESA (ESAJun) is sensitive to the intensity of water stress, which makes it a good indicator for drought monitoring. In addition, the forests’ inventory survey revealed that 8.05% of forests were affected by drought; thus, we used this as a guide to estimate an approximate threshold to map forest responses to drought across the region. Below this approximate threshold (i.e., ESAJun < −3.85), severe drought-induced effects on forests may occur. Given that natural forests are more vulnerable and sensitive to drought than the planted forests, natural forests need more careful management, especially in the context of projected increases in extreme drought events in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought; natural forest; planted forest; EVI; SPEI; Yunnan drought; natural forest; planted forest; EVI; SPEI; Yunnan

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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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Luo, H.; Zhou, T.; Wu, H.; Zhao, X.; Wang, Q.; Gao, S.; Li, Z. Contrasting Responses of Planted and Natural Forests to Drought Intensity in Yunnan, China. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 635.

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