Terrestrial Vegetation Dynamics and Its Response to Environmental Change

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X). This special issue belongs to the section "Land Systems and Global Change".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 March 2024 | Viewed by 6942

Special Issue Editor

Department of Plant and Fungal Diversity and Resources, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
Interests: vegetation classification; vegetation ecology; habitat and vegetation mapping; plant ecology; protected areas management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the Special Issue “Terrestrial Vegetation Dynamics and Its Response to Environmental Change” in the journal Land. The aim of this Special Issue is to show new findings or new methods that improve our knowledge and understanding of terrestrial vegetation dynamics and response under changing environments. 

The terrestrial vegetation plays a fundamental role in global environment due to the different contributing processes which could be summarized within the wide spectrum of ecosystem services. The degree of vegetation stability and resilience of environmental changes becomes a key factor for nature conservation and sustainable development. The response to the variety of environmental changes, makes vegetation particularly important for modelling and predictions which will improve the capacity of environmental resources management, especially in the case of fragile ecosystems. Systematic analyses of long-term changes in spatiotemporal vegetation dynamics and its response to environmental change are essential to developing appropriate land planning and ecological conservation strategies.

All explored aspects of vegetation changes by different levels of community integrity (individuals, patches, populations, community, landscape, region) could be subjects of article themes, as well as directional trajectories and the endpoints of changes. Trait based, functional studies of vegetation changes may improve our understanding of the mechanisms that drive these changes.

We encourage studies from all aspects and approaches, including experiments, remote sensing, monitoring and modelling, to contribute to this Special Issue in order to promote knowledge and adaptation strategies for the preservation and management of terrestrial ecosystems in the future. The contribution to this special issue is expected to accelerate the understanding of vegetation dynamics and its driving mechanisms, and provide support for scientifically formulating and adjusting ecological restoration projects.

Prof. Dr. Iva Apostolova
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ecosystem disturbances
  • land use change
  • plant community structure
  • primary production
  • species traits
  • succession
  • vegetation resilience

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

21 pages, 15700 KiB  
Article
Combined Effects of Meteorological Factors, Terrain, and Greenhouse Gases on Vegetation Phenology in Arid Areas of Central Asia from 1982 to 2021
Land 2024, 13(2), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/land13020180 - 03 Feb 2024
Viewed by 545
Abstract
Spatiotemporal variations in Central Asian vegetation phenology provide insights into arid ecosystem behavior and its response to environmental cues. Nevertheless, comprehensive research on the integrated impact of meteorological factors (temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, saturation vapor pressure deficit), topography (slope, aspect, elevation), and greenhouse [...] Read more.
Spatiotemporal variations in Central Asian vegetation phenology provide insights into arid ecosystem behavior and its response to environmental cues. Nevertheless, comprehensive research on the integrated impact of meteorological factors (temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, saturation vapor pressure deficit), topography (slope, aspect, elevation), and greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) on the phenology of Central Asian vegetation remains insufficient. Utilizing methods such as partial correlation and structural equation modeling, this study delves into the direct and indirect influences of climate, topography, and greenhouse gases on the phenology of vegetation. The results reveal that the start of the season decreased by 0.239 days annually, the length of the season increased by 0.044 days annually, and the end of the season decreased by 0.125 days annually from 1982 to 2021 in the arid regions of Central Asia. Compared with topography and greenhouse gases, meteorological factors are the dominant environmental factors affecting interannual phenological changes. Temperature and vapor pressure deficits (VPD) have become the principal meteorological elements influencing interannual dynamic changes in vegetation phenology. Elevation and slope primarily regulate phenological variation by influencing the VPD and soil moisture, whereas aspect mainly affects the spatiotemporal patterns of vegetation phenology by influencing precipitation and temperature. The findings of this study contribute to a deeper understanding of how various environmental factors collectively influence the phenology of vegetation, thereby fostering a more profound exploration of the intricate response relationships of terrestrial ecosystems to environmental changes. Full article
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18 pages, 12124 KiB  
Article
Climate Warming Dominates Vegetation Productivity in the Hanjiang River Basin, China
Land 2023, 12(10), 1891; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12101891 - 09 Oct 2023
Viewed by 711
Abstract
The Hanjiang River Basin (HJRB) encompasses the Danjiangkou Reservoir, a critical water source for the South-to-North Water Transfer project, the world’s largest such endeavor. Recent studies have highlighted that increased vegetation growth in the HJRB has led to reduced water availability in the [...] Read more.
The Hanjiang River Basin (HJRB) encompasses the Danjiangkou Reservoir, a critical water source for the South-to-North Water Transfer project, the world’s largest such endeavor. Recent studies have highlighted that increased vegetation growth in the HJRB has led to reduced water availability in the region. To investigate the seasonal dynamics and spatial patterns of vegetation and their association with the local climate, we employed Gross Primary Productivity (GPP), a pivotal component of terrestrial carbon-water cycling, derived from the MODIS MOD17A2HGF dataset at a 500 m resolution. We combined this dataset with station meteorological data and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) to explore the complex relationship between vegetation productivity, climate fluctuations, and hydrothermal changes in the HJRB from 2000 to 2020. Our findings reveal that the rising trend in vegetation productivity in the HJRB is primarily attributable to climate warming. Different types of vegetation in the upstream and downstream areas exhibit varying water requirements. While the region has not experienced prolonged widespread drought conditions thanks to its excellent water conservation capabilities, there remains a certain level of drought risk in the downstream area as the climate continues to warm. Moreover, variables such as wind speed and sunshine duration significantly impact the hydrothermal conditions within the river basin, consequently influencing vegetation productivity. This study elucidates the mechanisms through which climate change affects vegetation productivity in the HJRB. Despite afforestation efforts in the upstream region and climate warming leading to increased greening, there may be implications for the water retention function of the HJRB. This understanding is crucial for water resource management and ecosystem sustainability in the HJRB. Full article
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15 pages, 3032 KiB  
Article
Temporal and Spatial Variation in Vegetation and Its Influencing Factors in the Songliao River Basin, China
Land 2023, 12(9), 1692; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12091692 - 29 Aug 2023
Viewed by 634
Abstract
As an important part of soil and water conservation, ecological stability, and climate regulation, vegetation is sensitive to climate change and human disturbance. At present, there is a lack of research on the dynamic changes to vegetation in river basins and sub-basins from [...] Read more.
As an important part of soil and water conservation, ecological stability, and climate regulation, vegetation is sensitive to climate change and human disturbance. At present, there is a lack of research on the dynamic changes to vegetation in river basins and sub-basins from a holistic and partial perspective, which limits our ability to understand the spatial heterogeneity of vegetation changes and their influencing factors. In this study, the spatial and temporal variations of vegetation and their influencing factors in the Songliao River Basin (SLB) from 2000 to 2020 were analyzed using Sen’s trend method, the Mann–Kendall test, the coefficient of variation method, and the Geodetector method. The results showed that the NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) in the SLB exhibited an increasing trend of 0.003 yr−1, indicating that the vegetation was greening. In general, climatic factors and soil type were the dominant factors affecting the spatial differentiation of the NDVI in the SLB and sub-basin units. The interactions between the influencing factors were all enhanced, and the population density highlighted its influence on reflected vegetation changes. We also focused on analyzing the spatial differentiation of vegetation changes and influencing factors in the sub-basins. The research results provide a basis for the ecological restoration and stability of the basin. Full article
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14 pages, 3183 KiB  
Article
Analyzing the Land Use and Cover Change Inside and Outside China’s Ecological Function Area
Land 2023, 12(7), 1447; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12071447 - 20 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 975
Abstract
The establishment of nature reserves and ecological function areas is crucial for preserving the natural environment and the invaluable services provided by ecosystems. In our study, we conducted a comprehensive analysis using the 2011–2020 Chinese land cover dataset to examine the impact of [...] Read more.
The establishment of nature reserves and ecological function areas is crucial for preserving the natural environment and the invaluable services provided by ecosystems. In our study, we conducted a comprehensive analysis using the 2011–2020 Chinese land cover dataset to examine the impact of ecological function areas on regional land use and cover change. This analysis allowed us to quantify and visualize the intensity, aggregation effects, and transformation paths of land cover change while considering China’s ecological function areas. Our findings highlight notable disparities in land cover types between the ecological function area and its surroundings. Within the ecological function area, forest and grassland dominate, constituting 67% of the total land cover. In contrast, outside the ecological function area, there is a greater presence of wasteland, in addition to forest and grassland. Moreover, the abundance of impervious surfaces, which are closely linked to human activities, is significantly higher outside the ecological function area, almost double the amount found inside. By examining specific land cover types, we observed that forests exhibit the least change within the ecological function area, whereas croplands experience the least change outside. Throughout the study period, approximately 8.1% of land cover pixels underwent changes, with some areas displaying a frequency of change reaching up to 2. Interestingly, the number of high-frequency land use and cover change pixels inside the ecological function area is only half of the outside. Notably, a higher percentage of impervious surfaces within the ecological function area (0.13%) were converted into cropland compared to the outside (0.07%). Understanding the dynamics of land cover change within China’s ecological function areas provides valuable insights for effective land resource management and planning. It enables us to make informed decisions to ensure the sustainable development and conservation of these areas. Full article
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17 pages, 4293 KiB  
Article
“What’s Past Is Prologue”: Vegetation Model Calibration with and without Future Climate
Land 2023, 12(6), 1121; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12061121 - 24 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 837
Abstract
Many models are designed to generate future predictions under climate-change scenarios. Such models are typically calibrated for a study area with climate data that represent historical conditions. However, future projections of the model may include outputs for which the model has not been [...] Read more.
Many models are designed to generate future predictions under climate-change scenarios. Such models are typically calibrated for a study area with climate data that represent historical conditions. However, future projections of the model may include outputs for which the model has not been calibrated. Ideally, a climate-change-impacts model would be calibrated for recent conditions and also for possible future climate conditions. We demonstrate an approach, where a vegetation model is subjected to two calibrations: conventionally to the study area and separately to the study area plus additional areas representing analogues of potential future climate. We apply the dynamic vegetation model MC2 to a mountainous ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest, USA. We compare the conventional model calibration with the extra-study-area calibration and future projections. The two calibrations produce different outputs in key ecosystem variables, where some differences vary with time. Some model output trends for net primary productivity and plant functional type are more influenced by climatic input, while for others, the calibration area has greater consequence. Excluding areas representing potential future climate may be an important omission in model calibration, making the inclusion of such areas a decisive consideration in climate-change-impact simulations. Full article
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15 pages, 1995 KiB  
Article
Native and Dryland Pasture Seed Mixes Impact Revegetation 12 Years after Pipeline Construction in Southern Alberta
Land 2023, 12(4), 921; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12040921 - 20 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1188
Abstract
Activities associated with agriculture, grazing, and the energy industry have altered large tracts of native rangeland in North America. Pipelining causes intense local disturbance by removal of vegetation and alterations to soil horizons. Following a disturbance, reclamation is required to return the land [...] Read more.
Activities associated with agriculture, grazing, and the energy industry have altered large tracts of native rangeland in North America. Pipelining causes intense local disturbance by removal of vegetation and alterations to soil horizons. Following a disturbance, reclamation is required to return the land to equivalent land capability. Revegetation is usually by seeding native and/or agronomic (non-native, dominant) species. This study investigated the long-term effects of native and dryland pasture (91% non-native species) seed mixes, grazing, and right-of-way (RoW) treatments on revegetation of native rangeland in southeastern Alberta. Native seed mixes were more successful at enhancing seeded vegetation cover than dryland pasture seed mixes. Grazing had a significant impact only on the survival of non-native grasses. The seed mix did not significantly affect total, native, non-native, annual, or perennial forb cover. Total forb cover was significantly higher on the trench with the dryland pasture seed mix than all other RoW treatments (storage, work). This long-term study suggests that native seed mixes can result in successful revegetation of reclamation following pipeline construction. Full article
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18 pages, 4726 KiB  
Article
Characteristics of NDVI Changes in the Altay Region from 1981 to 2018 and Their Relationship to Climatic Factors
Land 2023, 12(3), 564; https://doi.org/10.3390/land12030564 - 26 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1391
Abstract
Vegetation growth and its response to climatic factors have become one of the most pressing issues in ecological research. However, no consensus has yet been reached on how to resolve this problem in arid areas with a high-elevation gradient and complex underlying surface. [...] Read more.
Vegetation growth and its response to climatic factors have become one of the most pressing issues in ecological research. However, no consensus has yet been reached on how to resolve this problem in arid areas with a high-elevation gradient and complex underlying surface. Here, NOAA CDR AVHRR NDVI V5 for 1981–2018 and China’s regional surface meteorological faction-driven datasets were used. General linear regression, the Mann-Kendall test and sliding t-test, Pearson correlations, and the Akaike information criterion (AIC), on a grid-scale, were applied to analyze the annual normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and its relationship with temperature and precipitation in the Altay region. Results revealed that the temporal trend of NDVI for most grid cells was non-significant. However, mountains, coniferous forests, grasslands, and meadows in the high-elevation zone displayed a slow increasing trend in NDVI. Further, NDVI was positively correlated with the mean annual temperature and total annual precipitation, the latter playing a more significant role. Yet, for desert and shrub vegetation and coniferous forest, their NDVI had insignificant negative correlations with the mean annual temperature. Hence, both the trends and drivers of NDVI of high elevation are highly complex. This study’s findings provide a reference for research on vegetation responses to climate change in arid areas having a high-elevation gradients and complex underlying surfaces. Full article
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