Decadal landscape and species level greenness patterns in a northern Chihuahuan Desert Shrubland

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Abstract:

In desert ecosystems the appearance of greenness in plants signifies the presence of adequate resources along with tolerance of the climate that allows for cellular respiration and development through phenological events. The duration of phenological events such as leaf growth, flower production, and seed release are sensitive to a variety climate conditions; as these events have annual and seasonal variability. To better understand the greenness variability of desert plants, four hard-mounted digital cameras set to capture repeat imagery from a fixed field of view collected landscape images at the Jornada Long Term Ecological Research site in the Chihuahuan desert. For quantifying greenness, these images were analyzed using Photoanalyzer software within the red, green, blue (RGB) color spectrum by identifying of regions of interest (ROI) within the images to create relevant spectral landscape or specific spectral data. With this data we hope to understand the following questions: • How does the greenness signal of the landscape vary over time? • How is data relating to patterns of greenness effected by increasing proportion of bare-ground in ROIs? • How have species-specific greenness patterns of dominant shrubs Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and Creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) change over time? • How does spectral data relate to eddy covariance or climate data? Understanding dryland ecosystem seasonal and annual greenness variability may provide further insight and support research into the capacity of shrubland plants to sequester carbon, how dominant desert shrubs interact with the abiotic environment and allocate water seasonally, and spatial heterogeneity of desert soils.

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