J Plant Ecol ›› 2015, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (1): 30-40.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtu002

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The spatial pattern of grassland aboveground biomass on Xizang Plateau and its climatic controls

Yanbin Jiang1, Jian Tao1, Yongqi Huang1,2, Juntao Zhu1, Li Tian1 and Yangjian Zhang1,*   

  1. 1 Lhasa Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China; 2 Hubei Key Laboratory of Economic Forest Germplasm Improvement and Resources Comprehensive Utilization, Huanggang Normal University, No.146, Xingang 2nd Road, Developing District, Huanggang 438000, China
  • Received:2013-04-26 Accepted:2014-02-10 Published:2015-01-22
  • Contact: Zhang, Yangjian

Abstract: Aims Grassland is the most widely distributed vegetation type on the Xizang Plateau. Accurate remote sensing estimation of the grassland aboveground biomass (AGB) in this region is influenced by the types of vegetation indexes (VIs) used, the grain size (resolution) of the remote sensing data and the targeted ecosystem features. This study attempts to answer the following questions: (i) Which VI can most accurately reflect the grassland AGB distribution on the Xizang Plateau? (ii) How does the grain size of remote sensing imagery affect AGB reflection? (iii) What is the spatial distribution pattern of the grassland AGB on the plateau and its relationship with the climate?
Methods We investigated 90 sample sites and measured site-specific AGBs using the harvest method for three grassland types (alpine meadow, alpine steppe and desert steppe). For each sample site, four VIs, namely, Normalized Difference VI (NDVI), Enhanced VI, Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) and Modified Soil-Adjusted VI (MSAVI) were extracted from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) products with grain sizes of 250 m and 1 km. Linear regression models were employed to identify the best estimator of the AGB for the entire grassland and the three individual grassland types. Paired Wilcoxon tests were applied to assess the grain size effect on the AGB estimation. General linear models were used to quantify the relationships between the spatial distribution of the grassland AGB and climatic factors.
Important findings The results showed that the best estimator for the entire grassland AGB on the Xizang Plateau was MSAVI at a 250 m grain size (MSAVI 250 m). For each individual grassland type, the best estimator was MSAVI at a grain size of 250 m for alpine meadow, NDWI at a grain size of 1 km for alpine steppe and NDVI at a grain size of 1 km for desert steppe. The explanation ability of each VI for the grassland AGB did not significantly differ for the two grain sizes. Based on the best fit model (AGB =-10.80 + 139.13 MSAVI 250 m), the spatial pattern of the grassland AGB on the plateau was characterized. The AGB varied from 1 to 136g m ?2. Approximately 59% of total spatial variation in the AGB for the entire grassland was explained by the combination of the mean annual precipitation (MAP) and mean annual temperature. The explanatory power of MAP was weaker for each individual grassland type than that for the entire grassland. This study illustrated the high efficiency of the VIs derived from MODIS data in the grassland AGB estimation on the Xizang Plateau due to the vegetation homogeneity within a 1×1 km pixel in this region. Furthermore, MAP is a primary driver on the spatial variation of AGB at a regional scale.

Key words: aboveground biomass, grassland, vegetation index, Xizang Plateau, grain size, precipitation

摘要:
Aims Grassland is the most widely distributed vegetation type on the Xizang Plateau. Accurate remote sensing estimation of the grassland aboveground biomass (AGB) in this region is influenced by the types of vegetation indexes (VIs) used, the grain size (resolution) of the remote sensing data and the targeted ecosystem features. This study attempts to answer the following questions: (i) Which VI can most accurately reflect the grassland AGB distribution on the Xizang Plateau? (ii) How does the grain size of remote sensing imagery affect AGB reflection? (iii) What is the spatial distribution pattern of the grassland AGB on the plateau and its relationship with the climate?
Methods We investigated 90 sample sites and measured site-specific AGBs using the harvest method for three grassland types (alpine meadow, alpine steppe and desert steppe). For each sample site, four VIs, namely, Normalized Difference VI (NDVI), Enhanced VI, Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) and Modified Soil-Adjusted VI (MSAVI) were extracted from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) products with grain sizes of 250 m and 1 km. Linear regression models were employed to identify the best estimator of the AGB for the entire grassland and the three individual grassland types. Paired Wilcoxon tests were applied to assess the grain size effect on the AGB estimation. General linear models were used to quantify the relationships between the spatial distribution of the grassland AGB and climatic factors.
Important findings The results showed that the best estimator for the entire grassland AGB on the Xizang Plateau was MSAVI at a 250 m grain size (MSAVI 250 m). For each individual grassland type, the best estimator was MSAVI at a grain size of 250 m for alpine meadow, NDWI at a grain size of 1 km for alpine steppe and NDVI at a grain size of 1 km for desert steppe. The explanation ability of each VI for the grassland AGB did not significantly differ for the two grain sizes. Based on the best fit model (AGB =-10.80 + 139.13 MSAVI 250 m), the spatial pattern of the grassland AGB on the plateau was characterized. The AGB varied from 1 to 136g m ?2. Approximately 59% of total spatial variation in the AGB for the entire grassland was explained by the combination of the mean annual precipitation (MAP) and mean annual temperature. The explanatory power of MAP was weaker for each individual grassland type than that for the entire grassland. This study illustrated the high efficiency of the VIs derived from MODIS data in the grassland AGB estimation on the Xizang Plateau due to the vegetation homogeneity within a 1×1 km pixel in this region. Furthermore, MAP is a primary driver on the spatial variation of AGB at a regional scale.