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CR 46:15-27 (2011)  -  DOI:

The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI): unforeseen successes in animal ecology

Nathalie Pettorelli1,*, Sadie Ryan2, Thomas Mueller3, Nils Bunnefeld4, Bogumila Jędrzejewska5, Mauricio Lima6, Kyrre Kausrud7

1Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY London, UK
2National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), University of California, 735 State Street, Suite 300, Santa Barbara, California 93101-5504, USA
3Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA
4Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 901 83 Umea, Sweden
5Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Waszkiewicza 1c, 17-230 Bialowieza, Poland
6Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 114-D, Santiago CP 6513677, Chile
7Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066 Blindern,
0316 Oslo, Norway

ABSTRACT: This review highlights the latest developments associated with the use of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in ecology. Over the last decade, the NDVI has proven extremely useful in predicting herbivore and non-herbivore distribution, abundance and life history traits in space and time. Due to the continuous nature of NDVI since mid-1981, the relative importance of different temporal and spatial lags on population performance can be assessed, widening our understanding of population dynamics. Previously thought to be most useful in temperate environments, the utility of this satellite-derived index has been demonstrated even in sparsely vegetated areas. Climate models can be used to reconstruct historical patterns in vegetation dynamics in addition to anticipating the effects of future environmental change on biodiversity. NDVI has thus been established as a crucial tool for assessing past and future population and biodiversity consequences of change in climate, vegetation phenology and primary productivity.

KEY WORDS:  Satellite · Primary productivity · Remote sensing · Environmental change · NDVI

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Cite this article as: Pettorelli N, Ryan S, Mueller T, Bunnefeld N, Jedrzejewska B, Lima M, Kausrud K (2011) The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI): unforeseen successes in animal ecology. Clim Res 46:15-27.

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