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Characterizing spatiotemporal environmental variation throughout Ontario, Canada, using remote sensing derived-indicators

Michaud, J-S, Coops, N., Wulder, M. and Andrew, M. (2010) Characterizing spatiotemporal environmental variation throughout Ontario, Canada, using remote sensing derived-indicators. In: IUFRO Landscape Ecology International Conference – Forest Landscapes and Global Change: New Frontiers in Management, Conservation, and Restoration, 21 - 27 September, Braganca, Portugal.


Ecosystems are naturally variable. This variability can be due to the inherent land cover, topography, seasonality, and natural variations in climate. Ecosystem variability can also extend beyond this natural range due to disturbances such as fire, harvesting, land conversion, insect infestation, and increasingly may be due to extremes in climate (e.g. snow, ice storms, flooding, rainfall, temperature fluctuation). Differentiating disturbances from natural variability and understanding vegetation productivity changes resulting from disturbances are of high importance for ecosystem management. To capture ecosystem variation over the province of Ontario, Canada, we utilised a series of ten‐day composites of Medium Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MERIS) fraction of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (fPAR) over a 6 year period. We investigated changes in the variations in fPAR derived vegetation indices (annual productivity, degree of vegetation seasonality and vegetative perennial cover) using a non‐parametric statistical test. Results indicated that considerable changes in vegetation productivity are occurring in Eastern Ontario as well as in other more localized regions in northern Ontario. Using a range of auxiliary information on fire disturbance, land cover, distance to nearest road and city, topography and protected areas, we provide explanations as to the possible drivers behind this variability.

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