Question: What is the influence of management on the functioning of vegetation over time in Mediterranean ecosystems under different climate conditions?
Location: Mediterranean shrublands and forests in SE Iberia (Andalusia).
Methods: We evaluated the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the 1997-2002 time series to determine phenological vegetation patterns under different historical management regimes. Three altitudinal ranges were considered within each area to explore climate × management interactions. Each phenological pattern was analysed using time series statistics, together with precipitation (monthly and cumulative) and temperature.
Results: NDVI time series were significantly different under different management regimes, particularly in highly transformed areas, which showed the lowest NDVI, weakest annual seasonality and a more immediate phenological response to precipitation. The NDVI relationship with precipitation was strongest in the summer-autumn period, when precipitation is the main plant growth-limiting factor.
Conclusions: NDVI time series analyses elucidated complex influences of land use and climate on ecosystem functioning in these Mediterranean ecosystems. We demonstrated that NDVI time series analyses are a useful tool for monitoring programmes because of their sensitivity to changes, ease of use and applicability to large-scale studies.