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Exploring relationships of spring green-up to moisture and temperature across Wyoming, U.S.A

Brown, Jesslyn F., Ji, Lei, Gallant, Alisa, Kauffman, Matthew
International journal of remote sensing 2019 v.40 no.3 pp. 956-984
basins, foraging, forests, grasses, grasslands, land cover, mountains, phenology, remote sensing, shrublands, shrubs, spring, temperature, time series analysis, ungulates, weather, winter, Wyoming
Vegetation green-up signals the timing of available nutritious plants and shrubs providing high-quality forage for ungulates. In this study, we characterized spatial and temporal patterns of spring phenology and explored how they were related to preceding temperature and moisture conditions. We tested correlations between late winter weather and indicators of the onset and the length of the spring growing period with 250-m resolution time-series satellite data (2001 – 2013) for Wyoming, USA. In western Wyoming mountains, drier and warmer conditions during late winter were associated with earlier spring green-up onset of growth in forests, shrubs, and grasses. In the northeast mountains, onset of spring correlated positively with preceding warmer temperatures, but not with precipitation. In most basin and plains shrublands and grasslands, spring onset was not correlated with temperature, although earlier onset of spring was correlated with drier conditions in 25% of shrub/scrub areas. Results about the length of spring were less definitive, with warmer temperatures related to longer green-up time for 12–30% of the land cover in western mountains but to shorter green-up time periods for 10–20% of the grasses and shrubs in basins and plains. Complex phenological patterns are likely to affect ungulate foraging behaviour on a local scale.