Assessing land degradation induced by recreational activities in the Algodones Dunes, California using MODIS satellite imagery

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Abstract

This research investigated spatial and temporal environmental changes associated with climatic variability and off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity in the Algodones Dunes, California, using time-series analysis of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer imagery from 2001 to 2016. We compared changes in land cover, surface albedo, and surface temperatures between the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) and areas with no OHV activity in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness area (NADW). Both areas showed a decreasing normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and an increasing albedo from 2001 to 2016; however, ISDRA had a lower NDVI value and higher albedo compared to the adjacent NADW. Transects across these adjoining areas revealed substantial differences in daytime and nighttime land surface temperatures. ISDRA had an appreciably higher mean daytime temperature and a lower mean nighttime temperature compared to those within NADW. Results suggest direct association between increasing OHV activity and reduced vegetation cover, increased soil exposure, and higher daytime temperatures in the Algodones Dunes. We recommend enhanced monitoring of ecosystem and land use changes coupled with enhanced land use management to reduce the contributions of recreational OHV activity on land degradation and to maintain habitat for key species and ecosystems of interest in the dune field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104334
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume185
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Land use
  • Off-highway vehicles (OHV)
  • Sand dunes
  • Time series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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