Ecology

Forecasting Grassland Production

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Science  15 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5558, pp. 1195
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5558.1195c

Just like the weather, forecasting of ecological variables poses a formidable problem, because of the intricate interplay of multiple and often nonlinear factors. Jobbágy et al. apply remote sensing techniques to study the relationship between climate and grassland production in the steppes of Patagonia. A satellite-derived index of vegetation cover was used as a surrogate for net primary production and was related to patterns of precipitation and temperature over 11 years. Primary production was related to the start of the growing season, which in turn depended on the mean temperature in July, the Argentine winter. Forage production—important for livestock managers—was predictable on this basis for the first few months of the growing season. The forecasting of annual production, however, requires longer data sets and remains a longer term challenge. — AMS

Ecology83, 307 (2002).

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