Estimating aboveground net primary productivity of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem of the Central Great Plains using AVHRR NDVI

TitleEstimating aboveground net primary productivity of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem of the Central Great Plains using AVHRR NDVI
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsAn, N, Price, KP, Blair, JM
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Pagination3717 -3735
Accession NumberKNZ001523

Above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) is indicative of an ecosystem's ability to capture solar energy and convert it to organic carbon (or biomass), which may be used by consumers or decomposers, or stored in the form of living and nonliving organic matter. Annual and interannual variation in ANPP is often linked to climate dynamics and anthropogenic influences, such as fertilization, irrigation, above-ground biomass harvest, and so on. The Central Great Plains grasslands occupy over 1.5 million km2 and are a primary resource for livestock production in North America. The tallgrass prairies are the most productive grasslands in this region, and the Flint Hills of North America represent the largest contiguous area of unploughed tallgrass prairie (1.6 million ha). Measurements of ANPP are of critical importance to the proper management and understanding of climatic and anthropogenic influences on tallgrass prairie. Yet, accurate, detailed, and systematic measurements of ANPP over large geographic regions do not exist for this ecosystem. For these reasons, this study was conducted to investigate the use of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to model ANPP of the tallgrass prairie. Many studies have established a positive relationship between the NDVI and ANPP, but the strength of this relationship is influenced by vegetation types and can vary significantly from year to year depending on land use and climatic conditions. The goal of this study was to develop a robust model using the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) biweekly NDVI values to predict tallgrass ANPP. This study was conducted using ANPP measurements from a watershed within the Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) as the primary study area, with additional measurements from the Rannells Flint Hills Prairie Preserve (RFHPP) and biennial ANPP measurements by Kansas State University (KSU) students from tallgrass areas near Manhattan, Kansas. Data from the primary study site covered the period of 1989–2005. The optimal period for estimating ANPP using AVHRR NDVI composite data sets was found to be late July. The Tallgrass ANPP Model (TAM) explained 54% (coefficient of determination, R 2 = 0.54, p < 0.001) of the year-to-year variation in ANPP. The creation of 1.0 km × 1.0 km resolution ANPP maps for a four-county (∼7000 ha) area for years 1989–2007 showed considerable variation in annual and interannual ANPP spatial patterns, suggesting complex interactions among factors influencing ANPP spatially and temporally.