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Integrating Dendrochronology, Climate and Satellite Remote Sensing to Better Understand Savanna Landscape Dynamics in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Department of Geography and the Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI), University of Florida, TUR 3141, PO Box 117315, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Department of Geography, Northern Illinois University, Davis Hall 601, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, USA
Okavango Research Institute (ORI), Maun, Botswana
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2013, 2(4), 637-655;
Received: 19 September 2013 / Revised: 16 October 2013 / Accepted: 6 November 2013 / Published: 20 November 2013
PDF [2520 KB, uploaded 20 November 2013]


This research examines the integration and potential uses of linkages between climate dynamics, savanna vegetation and landscape level processes within a highly vulnerable region, both in terms of climate variability and social systems. We explore the combined applications of two time-series methodologies: (1) climate signals detected in tree ring growth, from published literature, chronologies from the International Tree-Ring Data Bank, and minimal preliminary field data; and (2) new primary production (NPP) data of vegetation cover over time derived from remotely sensed analyses. Both time-series are related to the regional patterns of precipitation, the principle driver of plant growth in the area. The approach is temporally and spatially multiscalar and examines the relationships between vegetation cover, type and amount, and precipitation shifts. We review literature linking dendrochronology, climate, and remotely sensed imagery, and, in addition, provide unique preliminary analyses from a dry study site located on the outer limit of the Okavango Delta. The work demonstrates integration across the different data sources, to provide a more holistic view of landscape level processes occurring in the last 30-50 years. These results corroborate the water-limited nature of the region and the dominance of precipitation in controlling vegetation growth. We present this integrative analysis of vegetation and climate change, as a prospective approach to facilitate the development of long-term climate/vegetation change records across multiple scales. View Full-Text
Keywords: dendrochronology; time-series analysis; NPP; precipitation; savanna dendrochronology; time-series analysis; NPP; precipitation; savanna

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Southworth, J.; Rigg, L.; Gibbes, C.; Waylen, P.; Zhu, L.; McCarragher, S.; Cassidy, L. Integrating Dendrochronology, Climate and Satellite Remote Sensing to Better Understand Savanna Landscape Dynamics in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Land 2013, 2, 637-655.

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