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Mechanisms, monitoring and modeling of shrub encroachment into grassland: a review

Cao, Xin, Liu, Yu, Cui, Xihong, Chen, Jin, Chen, Xuehong
International journal of digital earth 2019 v.12 no.6 pp. 625-641
anthropogenic activities, arid lands, climate change, ecosystems, environmental impact, grasslands, models, monitoring, remote sensing, shrubs
Shrub encroachment into arid and semi-arid grasslands has elicited extensive research attention worldwide under the background of climate change and increasing anthropogenic activities. Shrub encroachment may considerably impact local ecosystems and economies, including the conversion of the structure and function of ecosystems, the shift in ambient conditions, and the weakness of local stock farming capacity. This article reviews recent research progresses on the shrub encroachment process and mechanism, shrub identification and dynamic monitoring using remote sensing, and modeling and simulation of the shrub encroachment process and dynamics. These studies can help to evaluate the ecological effect of shrub encroachment, and thus, practically manage and recover the ecological environment of degraded areas. However, the lack of effective measures and data for monitoring shrub encroachment at a large spatial scale severely limits research on the mechanism, modeling, and simulation of shrub encroachment, and the shrub encroachment stages can hardly be quantitatively defined, resulting in insufficient analysis and simulation of shrub encroachment for different spatiotemporal scales and stages shift. Improvement in remote sensing-based shrub encroachment dynamic monitoring might be crucial for analyzing and understanding the process and mechanism of shrub encroachment, and multi-disciplinary and multi-partnerships are required in the shrub encroachment studies.