Mapping Phenoregions in East Africa

What do the patterns we see in phenoregion NDVI time series tell us about how we study landscape scale vegetation?

Environmental Controls on Phenoregions across an East African Megatransect

I received my Master’s of Science in Forestry at Michigan State University. For my thesis, I mapped phenoregions along an East African transect and visualized phenological patterns in vegetation greenness for each phenoregion.

My thesis is published on Ecosphere and the article can be accessed at this link.

Phenoregions are a novel method for classifying a landscape that utilizes similarities in plant phenological cycles; in other words, vegetation is grouped together based on when they put leaves on in the year and then they lose their leaves. The Normalized Vegetation Difference Index or NDVI was used to determine when vegetation greened and when they lost their leaves, because NDVI is specially used to detect greenness.

Traditionally, land surface models that study changes in vegetation consider only plant functional types or land cover type. But these methods don’t take into consideration a plant’s phenology which can uncover information otherwise lost, especially in landscapes where plant functional type or land cover type models are not applicable.

Phenoregions are unique because they highlight the patterns in phenology in a landscape over space and over time. The below presentation is my thesis defense that goes into more detail about why we chose phenoregions, semi-arid savanna type regions in East Africa, the spatial and temporal importance of phenology, and how this model can be used to improve environmental management decision making.

The second to last slide in my presentation is dedicated to all the wonderful people, friends, and experiences that helped lead me to where I am today. Thank you to my very supportive graduate committee; to the Forestry department at MSU; and all my friends!