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A Model for Estimating the Vegetation Cover in the High-Altitude Wetlands of the Andes (HAWA)

1
Agroenergía Ingeniería Genética S.A. Inc., Almirante Lynch 1179, San Miguel, Santiago 8920033, Chile
2
Department of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Chile, Santa Rosa 11315, La Pintana, Santiago 8820808, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 October 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
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Abstract

The natural salt meadows of Tilopozo in the hyperarid, Atacama Desert of northern Chile, which are located at approximately 2800 m above sea level, are under pressure from industrial activity, and cultivation and grazing by local communities. In this research, the land surface covered by salt meadow vegetation was estimated from normalized difference vegetation indices (NDVI) derived from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM), Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) and Operational Land Imager (OLI) data from 1985 to 2016. The vegetated area of the Tilopozo salt meadows decreased by 34 ha over the 32-year period studied. Multiple regression models of the area covered by vegetation and climate data and groundwater depths were derived on an annual basis, as well as for both the dry and wet seasons and had R2 values of 83.0%, 72.8% and 92.4% respectively between the vegetated areas modeled and those estimated from remotely sensed data. These models are potentially useful tools for studies into the conservation of the Tilopozo salt meadows, as they provide relevant information on the state of vegetation and enable changes in vegetation in response to fluctuations in climate parameters and groundwater depths to be predicted. View Full-Text
Keywords: high altitude wetlands of the Andes (HAWA); land surface changes prediction models; conservation wetlands; model for vegetation cover estimation; Atacama Desert high altitude wetlands of the Andes (HAWA); land surface changes prediction models; conservation wetlands; model for vegetation cover estimation; Atacama Desert
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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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Soto, J.; Román-Figueroa, C.; Paneque, M. A Model for Estimating the Vegetation Cover in the High-Altitude Wetlands of the Andes (HAWA). Land 2019, 8, 20.

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