The interannual variability of tidal marsh plant phenology is largely unknown and may have important ecological consequences. Marsh plants are critical to the biogeomorphic feedback processes that build estuarine soils, maintain marsh elevation relative to sea level, and sequester carbon. We calculated Tasseled Cap Greenness, a metric of plant biomass, using remotely sensed data available in the Landsat archive to assess how recent climate variation has affected biomass production and plant phenology across three maritime tidal marshes in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. First, we used clipped vegetation plots at one of our sites to confirm that tasseled cap greenness provided a useful measure of aboveground biomass (r2 = 0.72). We then used multiple measures of biomass each growing season over 20–25 years per study site and developed models to test how peak biomass and the date of peak biomass varied with 94 climate and sea-level metrics using generalized linear models and Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) model selection. Peak biomass was positively related to total annual precipitation, while the best predictor for date of peak biomass was average growing season temperature, with the peak 7.2 days earlier per degree C. Our study provides insight into how plants in maritime tidal marshes respond to interannual climate variation and demonstrates the utility of time-series remote sensing data to assess ecological responses to climate stressors.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Climate-related variation in plant peak biomass and growth phenology across Pacific Northwest tidal marshes|
|Series title||Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science|
|Contributing office(s)||Western Ecological Research Center|