Polk, MH; Mishra, NB; Young, KR; Mainali, K (2020). Greening and Browning Trends across Peru's Diverse Environments. REMOTE SENSING, 12(15), 2418.

If he were living today, Alexander von Humboldt would be using current technology to evaluate change in the Andes. Inspired by von Humboldt's scientific legacy and the 2019 celebrations of his influence, we utilize a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)time-series vegetation index to ask questions of landscape change. Specifically, we use an 18-year record of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data as a proxy to evaluate landscape change in Peru, which is well known for its high biological and ecological diversity. Continent-level evaluations of Latin America have shown sites with a positive trend in NDVI, or "greening" and "browning", a negative trend in NDVI that suggests biophysical or human-caused reductions in vegetation. Our overall hypothesis was that the major biomes in Peru would show similar NDVI change patterns. To test our expectations, we analyzed the NDVI time-series with Thiel-Sen regression and evaluated Peru overall, by protected area status, by biome, and by biome and elevation. Across Peru overall, there was a general greening trend. By protected area status, surprisingly, the majority of greening occurred outside protected areas. The trends were different by biome, but there were hotspots of greening in the Amazon, Andean Highlands, and Drylands where greening dominated. In the Tropical Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forest biome, greening and browning signals were mixed. Greening trends varied across the elevation gradient, switching from greening, to browning, and then back to greening as elevation increased. By biome and elevation, the results were variable. We further explored biome-specific drivers of greening and browning drawing on high-resolution imagery, the literature, and field expertise, much as we imagine von Humboldt might have approached similar questions of landscape dynamism.