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Establishing ecological thresholds and targets for groundwater management

Rohde, Melissa M., Stella, John C., Singer, Michael Bliss ORCID:, Roberts, Dar, Caylor, Kelly and Albano, Christine M. 2024. Establishing ecological thresholds and targets for groundwater management. nature water 10.1038/s44221-024-00221-w

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Groundwater is critical for many ecosystems, yet groundwater requirements for dependent ecosystems are rarely accounted for during water and conservation planning. Here we compile 38 years of Landsat-derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to evaluate groundwater-dependent vegetation responses to changes in depth to groundwater (DTG) across California. To maximize applicability, we standardized raw NDVI and DTG values using Z scores to identify groundwater thresholds, groundwater targets and map potential drought refugia across a diversity of biomes and local conditions. Groundwater thresholds were analysed for vegetation impacts where ZNDVI dropped below −1. ZDTG thresholds and targets were then evaluated with respect to groundwater-dependent vegetation in different condition classes and rooting depths. ZNDVI scores were applied statewide to identify potential drought refugia supported by groundwater. Our approach provides a simple and robust methodology for water and conservation practitioners to support ecosystem water needs so biodiversity and sustainable water-management goals can be achieved.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Water Research Institute (WATER)
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2731-6084
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 February 2024
Date of Acceptance: 2 February 2024
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 10:25

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