Izquierdo, T; de las Heras, P; Marquez, A (2011). Vegetation indices changes in the cloud forest of La Gomera Island (Canary Islands) and their hydrological implications. HYDROLOGICAL PROCESSES, 25(10), 1531-1541.
Vegetation indices derived from remote sensing data still remain to be used for analysing the relationship between climatic factors and vegetation seasonal phenology in middle latitudes with subtropical conditions forests such as the Canarian laurel forest. The Garajonay National Park, located in the La Gomera Island, protects one of the best preserved examples of the Macaronesian laurel forest, due to the cloud banks produced by trade winds, with rainfall and temperature field data showing a clear Mediterranean climatic pattern. We have analysed seasonal vegetation indices trend for different types of forest inside the Garajonay National Park using normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and enhanced vegetation index (EVI) products derived from moderate resolution imaging spectrometer (MODIS) Aqua data for two hydrological years (October 2003 to September 2005) in relationship with the existing field climatic data: rainfall, net fog water and temperature. Maximum annual EVI maps show the highest vegetation indices in the laurel forest of La Gomera that occur during the dry season, mainly in late spring to early summer, with EVI temporal profiles showing that valley-bottom laurel forest areas have the most clear seasonal trend. Difference maps of EVI values between months with the lowest and highest rainfall of each hydrological year clearly confirm the highest photosynthetic activity in the laurel forest during the dry season. In addition, these forests show a significative temporal correlation between EVI values and the temperature in the forest (p < 0.001). Our results prove the absence of summer drought stress in the laurel forest implying that the fog drip income is high enough to maintain enough soil moisture to allow the forest fully transpire when temperatures are higher. As the laurel forest of La Gomera occurs in the main recharge area of the island's aquifer system, our analysis of EVI data suggests that fog drip constitutes a key hydrological factor. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.