Monitoring the production of Central California coastal rangelands using satellite remote sensing
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There is a long history of livestock grazing on the California Central Coast, dating back over 150 years. In this study, methods were reviewed and results presented for analysis of NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite sensor data to monitor year-to-year variation of forage production on Central Coast rangelands around Big Sur, California. Time series plots from 2000 to 2012 of vegetation greenness for ten rangeland sites showed similar inter-annual patterns in satellite yield index (SYI) values. Most sites reached their maximum greenness levels each year in early May. The year with the highest observed SYI level across most sites was 2005. In the northern portion of the region (north of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park), 2007 was the year with the lowest observed SYI level, whereas in the southern allotments, 2007 was a year with a relatively high SYI level. These methods have the potential to monitor the differing seasonal growing cycles of rangeland production across the area of individual grazing allotments on the Central Coast. Such a cost-effective and timely approach is required for conservation monitoring in the Big Sur coastal ecosystems where rapid climate change may shift vegetation cover in favor of more extensive rangelands at the expense of forested lands.
KeywordsRangelands MODIS Central Coast California Coastal climate
The author is grateful to the U. S. Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, for whom this study was conducted, and particularly to Ecosystem Manager Jeff Kwasny for information on Central Coast rangeland management.
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