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Creators/Authors contains: "Bourgeau-Chavez, Laura L."

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  1. Abstract

    Ecosystems in the North American Arctic-Boreal Zone (ABZ) experience a diverse set of disturbances associated with wildfire, permafrost dynamics, geomorphic processes, insect outbreaks and pathogens, extreme weather events, and human activity. Climate warming in the ABZ is occurring at over twice the rate of the global average, and as a result the extent, frequency, and severity of these disturbances are increasing rapidly. Disturbances in the ABZ span a wide gradient of spatiotemporal scales and have varying impacts on ecosystem properties and function. However, many ABZ disturbances are relatively understudied and have different sensitivities to climate and trajectories of recovery, resulting in considerable uncertainty in the impacts of climate warming and human land use on ABZ vegetation dynamics and in the interactions between disturbance types. Here we review the current knowledge of ABZ disturbances and their precursors, ecosystem impacts, temporal frequencies, spatial extents, and severity. We also summarize current knowledge of interactions and feedbacks among ABZ disturbances and characterize typical trajectories of vegetation loss and recovery in response to ecosystem disturbance using satellite time-series. We conclude with a summary of critical data and knowledge gaps and identify priorities for future study.

  2. Grassland monitoring can be challenging because it is time-consuming and expensive to measure grass condition at large spatial scales. Remote sensing offers a time- and cost-effective method for mapping and monitoring grassland condition at both large spatial extents and fine temporal resolutions. Combinations of remotely sensed optical and radar imagery are particularly promising because together they can measure differences in moisture, structure, and reflectance among land cover types. We combined multi-date radar (PALSAR-2 and Sentinel-1) and optical (Sentinel-2) imagery with field data and visual interpretation of aerial imagery to classify land cover in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya using machine learning (Random Forests). This study area comprises a diverse array of land cover types and changes over time due to seasonal changes in precipitation, seasonal movements of large herds of resident and migratory ungulates, fires, and livestock grazing. We classified twelve land cover types with user’s and producer’s accuracies ranging from 66%–100% and an overall accuracy of 86%. These methods were able to distinguish among short, medium, and tall grass cover at user’s accuracies of 83%, 82%, and 85%, respectively. By yielding a highly accurate, fine-resolution map that distinguishes among grasses of different heights, this work not only outlinesmore »a viable method for future grassland mapping efforts but also will help inform local management decisions and research in the Masai Mara National Reserve.« less