Trends of Aboveground Net Primary Productivity of Patagonian Meadows, the Omitted Ecosystem in Desertification Studies

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Curcio, M., Irisarri, G., Martinez, G. G. and Oesterheld, M. 2023. Trends of Aboveground Net Primary Productivity of Patagonian Meadows, the Omitted Ecosystem in Desertification Studies. Remote Sensing. 15 (10), p. 2531.

AuthorsCurcio, M., Irisarri, G., Martinez, G. G. and Oesterheld, M.

The United Nations defines desertification as the loss of productivity in arid and semiarid environments. The extended steppes of Patagonia harbor small meadows whose compounded area is comparatively small, but their aboveground net primary production (ANPP) is up to ten times higher than their surroundings. These meadows then represent a key ecosystem for cattle grazing systems, but there are no descriptions of the trends in their ANPP and, consequently, their carrying capacity, and, as a result, their degradation syndromes. Our objectives were as follows: (1) analyze the trends of mean and spatial heterogeneity of annual ANPP in meadows and neighboring steppes and relate them with precipitation and temperature, (2) evaluate the impact on the livestock carrying capacity of meadows in the region, and (3) evaluate the degradation trends of these meadows, based on a novel description proposed to characterize the trend syndromes of these type of ecosystems. We identified
meadow areas across a subcontinental scale in Patagonia, covering a mean annual precipitation range from 129 to 936 mm. We estimated ANPP on a monthly basis from 2000 to 2019 via regional calibrated remote sensing information. In the last two decades, ANPP decreased in 74% of the studied meadow
areas, while remaining relatively stable in the nearby steppes. This decrease was relatively higher in the arid end of the analyzed precipitation gradient. Hence, the global carrying capacity for all the studied meadow areas decreased by 8%. Finally, we identified four trend syndromes based on
the combination of the ANPP trend and its spatial heterogeneity, calculated as the spatial standard deviation. The predominant trend syndrome, in 55% of the area, was associated with a negative trend of both ANPP and spatial heterogeneity. These results could help prioritize areas where specific management decisions, given the different trend syndromes, could help revert ANPP negative trends.

KeywordsWetland; Patagonia; Temperature; Precipitation; Global climate change; Trend syndrome; Carrying capacity; Relative rate of change; Steppe; Arid environment
Year of Publication2023
JournalRemote Sensing
Journal citation15 (10), p. 2531
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online11 May 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted08 May 2023

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