Nine atmospherically corrected Landsat Thematic Mapper images were used to generate mean normalized difference vegetation indices (NDVI) at 11 burn sites throughout a coastal Juncus roemerianus marsh in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida. Time-since-burn, the time lapse from the date of burn to the date of image collection, was related to variation in mean NDVI over time. Regression analysis showed that NDVI increased for about 300 to 400 days immediately after the burn, overshooting the typical mean NDVI of a nonburned marsh. For about another 500 to 600 days NDVI decreased until reaching a nearly constant NDVI of about 0.40. During the phase of increasing NDVI the ability to predict time-since-burn was within about ??60 days. Within the decreasing phase this dropped to about ??88 days. Examination of each burn site revealed some nonburn related influences on NDVI (e.g., seasonality). Normalization of burn NDVI by site-specific nonburn control NDVI eliminated most influences. However, differential responses at the site-specific level remained related to either storm impacts or secondary burning. At these sites, collateral data helped clarify the abnormal changes in NDVI. Accounting for these abnormalities, site-specific burn recovery trends could be broadly standardized into four general phases: Phase 1-preburn, Phase 2-initial recovery (increasing NDVI), Phase 3-late recovery (decreasing NDVI), and Phase 4-final coalescence (unchanging NDVI). Phase 2 tended to last about 300 to 500 days, Phase 3 an additional 500 to 600 days, and finally reaching Phase 4, 900 to 1,000 days after burn.
Additional publication details
Monitoring the recovery of Juncus roemerianus marsh burns with the normalized difference vegetation index and Landsat Thematic Mapper data