, Volume 143, Issue 4, pp 588–597 | Cite as

Inter-annual variability of NDVI in response to long-term warming and fertilization in wet sedge and tussock tundra

  • Natalie T. BoelmanEmail author
  • Marc Stieglitz
  • Kevin L. Griffin
  • Gaius R. Shaver
Ecosystem Ecology


This study explores the relationship between the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and aboveground plant biomass for tussock tundra vegetation and compares it to a previously established NDVI–biomass relationship for wet sedge tundra vegetation. In addition, we explore inter-annual variation in NDVI in both these contrasting vegetation communities. All measurements were taken across long-term experimental treatments in wet sedge and tussock tundra communities at the Toolik Lake Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, in northern Alaska. Over 15 years (for wet sedge tundra) and 14 years (for tussock tundra), N and P were applied in factorial experiments (N, P and N+P), air temperature was increased using greenhouses with and without N+P fertilizer, and light intensity was reduced by 50% using shade cloth. during the peak growing seasons of 2001, 2002, and 2003, NDVI measurements were made in both the wet sedge and tussock tundra experimental treatment plots, creating a 3-year time series of inter-annual variation in NDVI. We found that: (1) across all tussock experimental tundra treatments, NDVI is correlated with aboveground plant biomass (r 2=0.59); (2) NDVI–biomass relationships for tussock and wet sedge tundra communities are community specific, and; (3) NDVI values for tussock tundra communities are typically, but not always, greater than for wet sedge tundra communities across all experimental treatments. We suggest that differences between the response of wet sedge and tussock tundra communities in the same experimental treatments result from the contrasting degree of heterogeneity in species and functional types that characterize each of these Arctic tundra vegetation communities.


Aboveground biomass Arctic tundra Normalized difference vegetation index 



This project has been funded through support from NSF grants from the Office of Polar Programs (OPP-002369), from the division of Environmental Biology (Arctic LTER Project), and from an NSF Cooperative Agreement (OPP-0002239, as well as the NASA Seasonal-to-Interannual Prediction Project at Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA’s Global Modeling and Analysis Program under RTOP 622-24-47, and the NSF Biocomplexity award ATM 0221835. We thank Jim Laundre for field assistance and many others for their help with the biomass harvesting. This is Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory contribution number 6722.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalie T. Boelman
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marc Stieglitz
    • 1
    • 3
  • Kevin L. Griffin
    • 1
  • Gaius R. Shaver
    • 4
  1. 1.Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Global EcologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Georgia School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and School of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Marine Biological LaboratoryThe Ecosystems Center USA

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