MODIS vegetation products as proxies of photosynthetic potential along a gradient of meteorologically and biologically driven ecosystem productivity

Restrepo-Coupe, Natalia, Huete, Alfredo, Davies, Kevin, Cleverly, James, Beringer, Jason, Eamus, Derek, van Gorsel, Eva, Hutley, Lindsay B., and Meyer, Wayne S. (2016) MODIS vegetation products as proxies of photosynthetic potential along a gradient of meteorologically and biologically driven ecosystem productivity. Biogeosciences, 13 (19). pp. 5587-5608.

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A direct relationship between gross ecosystem productivity (GEP) estimated by the eddy covariance (EC) method and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) vegetation indices (VIs) has been observed in many temperate and tropical ecosystems. However, in Australian evergreen forests, and particularly sclerophyll and temperate woodlands, MODIS VIs do not capture seasonality of GEP. In this study, we re-evaluate the connection between satellite and flux tower data at four contrasting Australian ecosystems, through comparisons of GEP and four measures of photosynthetic potential, derived via parameterization of the light response curve: ecosystem light use efficiency (LUE), photosynthetic capacity (Pc), GEP at saturation (GEPsat), and quantum yield (α), with MODIS vegetation satellite products, including VIs, gross primary productivity (GPPMOD), leaf area index (LAIMOD), and fraction of photosynthetic active radiation (fPARMOD). We found that satellite-derived biophysical products constitute a measurement of ecosystem structure (e.g. leaf area index – quantity of leaves) and function (e.g. leaf level photosynthetic assimilation capacity – quality of leaves), rather than GEP. Our results show that in primarily meteorological-driven (e.g. photosynthetic active radiation, air temperature, and/or precipitation) and relatively aseasonal ecosystems (e.g. evergreen wet sclerophyll forests), there were no statistically significant relationships between GEP and satellite-derived measures of greenness. In contrast, for phenology-driven ecosystems (e.g. tropical savannas), changes in the vegetation status drove GEP, and tower-based measurements of photosynthetic activity were best represented by VIs. We observed the highest correlations between MODIS products and GEP in locations where key meteorological variables and vegetation phenology were synchronous (e.g. semi-arid Acacia woodlands) and low correlation at locations where they were asynchronous (e.g. Mediterranean ecosystems). However, we found a statistical significant relationship between the seasonal measures of photosynthetic potential (Pc and LUE) and VIs, where each ecosystem aligns along a continuum; we emphasize here that knowledge of the conditions in which flux tower measurements and VIs or other remote sensing products converge greatly advances our understanding of the mechanisms driving the carbon cycle (phenology and climate drivers) and provides an ecological basis for interpretation of satellite-derived measures of greenness.

Item ID: 73494
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1726-4189
Copyright Information: © Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant DP110105479, ARC grant DP0344744, ARC grant DP0772981, ARC grant DP130101566, ARC Future Fellowship grant (ARC FT110100602)
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2022 04:27
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180601 Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems @ 100%
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