Assessment of Rangeland Degradation in New Mexico Using Time Series Segmentation and Residual Trend Analysis (TSS-RESTREND)

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Gedefaw, M.G.; Geli, H.M.E.; Abera, T.A. Assessment of Rangeland Degradation in New Mexico Using Time Series Segmentation and Residual Trend Analysis (TSS-RESTREND). Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 1618.

Title: Assessment of Rangeland Degradation in New Mexico Using Time Series Segmentation and Residual Trend Analysis (TSS-RESTREND)
Author: Gedefaw, Melakeneh G.; Geli, Hatim M. E.; Abera, Temesgen Alemayehu
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Date: 2021-04-21
Abstract: Rangelands provide significant socioeconomic and environmental benefits to humans. However, climate variability and anthropogenic drivers can negatively impact rangeland productivity. The main goal of this study was to investigate structural and productivity changes in rangeland ecosystems in New Mexico (NM), in the southwestern United States of America during the 1984–2015 period. This goal was achieved by applying the time series segmented residual trend analysis (TSS-RESTREND) method, using datasets of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from the Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies and precipitation from Parameter elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM), and developing an assessment framework. The results indicated that about 17.6% and 12.8% of NM experienced a decrease and an increase in productivity, respectively. More than half of the state (55.6%) had insignificant change productivity, 10.8% was classified as indeterminant, and 3.2% was considered as agriculture. A decrease in productivity was observed in 2.2%, 4.5%, and 1.7% of NM’s grassland, shrubland, and ever green forest land cover classes, respectively. Significant decrease in productivity was observed in the northeastern and southeastern quadrants of NM while significant increase was observed in northwestern, southwestern, and a small portion of the southeastern quadrants. The timing of detected breakpoints coincided with some of NM’s drought events as indicated by the self-calibrated Palmar Drought Severity Index as their number increased since 2000s following a similar increase in drought severity. Some breakpoints were concurrent with some fire events. The combination of these two types of disturbances can partly explain the emergence of breakpoints with degradation in productivity. Using the breakpoint assessment framework developed in this study, the observed degradation based on the TSS-RESTREND showed only 55% agreement with the Rangeland Productivity Monitoring Service (RPMS) data. There was an agreement between the TSS-RESTREND and RPMS on the occurrence of significant degradation in productivity over the grasslands and shrublands within the Arizona/NM Tablelands and in the Chihuahua Desert ecoregions, respectively. This assessment of NM’s vegetation productivity is critical to support the decision-making process for rangeland management; address challenges related to the sustainability of forage supply and livestock production; conserve the biodiversity of rangelands ecosystems; and increase their resilience. Future analysis should consider the effects of rising temperatures and drought on rangeland degradation and productivity.

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