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Individual Highlight

Using Forest Phenology to Understand Landscape Change

Photo of The Landscape Dynamics Assessment Tool features a map viewer that visualizes vegetation phenology and its dynamics through time. This example shows the direction of landscape change in growing season productivity over nearly two decades—increase is in yellow, loss in blue. Local changes related to land use, and regional changes more likely related to climate, are visible.

The Landscape Dynamics Assessment Tool features a map viewer that visualizes vegetation phenology and its dynamics through time. This example shows the direction of landscape change in growing season productivity over nearly two decades—increase is in yellow, loss in blue. Local changes related to land use, and regional changes more likely related to climate, are visible. Snapshot : The Landscape Dynamics Assessment Tool (LanDAT) is designed to help natural resource managers assess changing landscapes and understand how these changes impact ecosystem services. LanDAT relies on vegetation phenology to map forest changes driven by fire, land use, insects, disease, and climate.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Lee, Danny C.Pomara, Lazarus Y.
Hargrove, William 
Research Location : Conterminous US, southern Canada, northern Mexico
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2020
Highlight ID : 1738

Summary

Land management objectives and ecological realities differ from place to place, but all forest lands face threats stemming from land use change, climate change, and disturbances such as wildfire, forest pathogen outbreaks, and invasive species. Informed management decision-making can be supported by tools that help define and measure landscape change and resilience through time. USDA Forest Service researchers have developed tools that monitor all lands across the conterminous U.S. and adjacent Canada and Mexico, providing a comprehensive year-to-year perspective on landscape dynamics. The key insight of LanDAT is that phenology (regular seasonal change of vegetation) is an excellent indicator for basic variation in ecosystems and the changes wrought by multiple interacting stressors on forest vegetation. Vegetation phenology can be observed in satellite imagery, making it possible to map these changes across large areas. This provides managers with a reliable approach for seeing landscape change and assessing the influence of management activities on landscape resilience and adaptive capacity. LanDAT is accessible through a public website, map viewer, and story maps. A recent article in the journal Forests details the methods used to transform long time series of satellite images into phenology metrics that reveal patterns of landscape change in new ways.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Bjorn Brooks - North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies
  • National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL)