Landscape phenology: An integrative approach to seasonal vegetation dynamics

Liang Liang, Mark D. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


This brief report addresses the theory and methodology of landscape phenology (LP), along with synopsis of a case study conducted in the northern Wisconsin temperate mixed forest. LP engages questions related to ecosystem phenology, landscape genetics, and vegetation change science across multiple scales, which have rarely been addressed by existing studies. Intensive in situ observations, remote sensing data, and spatiotemporal analysis are employed for understanding patterns and processes within the complexity of seasonal landscape dynamics. A hierarchical upscaling approach is also introduced. Results from the case study suggest that plot-scale phenology lacks spatial autocorrelation and varies individualistically, with genetic heterogeneity overriding small microenvironmental gradients. However, at the landscape level, forest phenology responds coherently to weather fluctuations. The resultant LP index confirms the relative reliability of moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS)-based land surface phenology (LSP). Due to technological advancement in spatial data acquisition and analysis, LP has the ability to connect conventional plant phenology studies back to their intricate ecological context, and provides a new approach to validating coarse-scale monitoring and modeling of LSP and other seasonal ecosystem processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-472
Number of pages8
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This project has been supported by the National Science Foundation under grants BCS-0649380 and BCS-0703360. Jonathan Hanes and Rong Yu participated in data collection and/or provided valuable support with data analyses. LiDAR data were provided by Bruce Cook and Ryan Anderson of the University of Minnesota. QuickBird images were provided by NASA. Robert Cook and Suresh-Kumar Santhana-Vannan of Oak Ridge National Laboratory provided valuable help regarding using MODIS products. Changshan Wu, Eric Graham, Jake Weltzin and Jeffrey Morisette provided constructive advice on data analyses and literature review. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Finally we thank Dr. Jianguo Wu for the invitation to address Landscape Phenology in this brief report for Landscape Ecology.


  • Land surface phenology
  • Landscape phenology
  • Scaling
  • Spatiotemporal analysis
  • Temperate mixed forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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