Changes in vegetation persistence across global savanna landscapes, 1982–2010

Published: August 14th, 2015

Category: Publications

SOUTHWORTH, BUNTING, RYAN, HERRERO, WAYLENChanges in vegetation persistence across global savanna landscapes, 1982–2010

J. Southworth, L. Zhu, E. Bunting, S.J. Ryan, H. Herrero, P.R. Waylen & M.J. Hill

Article first published online: 14 Aug 2015 Journal of Land Use Science

DOI: 10.1080/1747423X.2015.1071439

ABSTRACT: We present a global analysis of the changing face of vegetation persistence in savanna ecosystems by boreal seasons. We utilized nearly 30 years of monthly normalized difference vegetation index data in an innovative time-series approach and developed associated statistical significance tests, making the application of continuous vegetation metrics both more rigorous and more useful to research. We found that 8,000,000–11,000,000 km2 of savanna have experienced significant vegetation decline during each season, while 20,000,000–23,000,000 km2 have experienced an increase in vegetation persistence during each season, relative to the baseline period (1982–1985). In addition, with the exception of the March–April–May season, which is mixed, the pattern of significant vegetation persistence in the Northern Hemisphere is almost exclusively positive, while it is negative in the Southern Hemisphere. This finding highlights the increasing vulnerability of the Southern Hemisphere savanna landscapes; either resulting from changing precipitation regimes (e.g., southern Africa) or agricultural pressures and conversions (e.g., South America).

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