Characterizing Land Degradation and Recovery Processes with Remote Sensing and Geostatistical Analysis, Santa Cruz Island, CA

EPA Grant Number: F6C20812
Title: Characterizing Land Degradation and Recovery Processes with Remote Sensing and Geostatistical Analysis, Santa Cruz Island, CA
Investigators: Perroy, Ryan L.
Institution: University of California - Santa Barbara
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through September 1, 2009
Project Amount: $87,568
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Physical Geography


Land degradation and desertification processes are drastically changing the Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems. In predicting the future consequences of these changes for life on Earth, knowledge of an ecosystem’s ability to recover from the effects of land degradation processes will be critical. This research will examine these processes using the case study of Santa Cruz Island, CA, which has undergone drastic land cover changes over the past 200 years as a result of land management decisions.

The objective of this research is to develop a better understanding of the controlling factors and processes involved in land degradation and recovery, specifically addressing the past and ongoing changes in land cover that have taken place on Santa Cruz Island as a result of human activity.


Image processing of aerial and satellite imagery will provide a time-series sequence of land cover change over the past 80 years. Land cover change curve modeling, geostatistical analysis techniques such as kriging and co-kriging, and ordination methods incorporating physical properties of vegetation and soils and land use history will be applied to the time-series data and used to explain spatial patterns of land degradation and recovery on the island. Vegetation spectral signatures and precipitation-driven variability in the time-series data will be used to identify different plant communities and successional trends in recovering degraded areas

Expected Results:

  • A better understanding of the factors and processes involved in land degradation and recovery in areas that have suffered from erosion due to overgrazing.
  • The development of a new set of tools for the analysis of remote sensing time series datasets for general land cover change research and studies of land degradation, species invasions, and vegetation phenology.
  • Further incorporation of remote sensing and geostatistical analysis into land management decisions and the global fight against land degradation.
  • Detailed maps of land cover change on Santa Cruz Island over the past 80 years, including maps of invasive species colonization.

Supplemental Keywords:

Overgrazing, land degradation, recovery, remote sensing, geostatistics, Santa Cruz Island,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, RESEARCH, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Soils, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Monitoring, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Indicators, anthropogenic stresses, remote sensing, degradation, erosion, land cover, geostatic analysis, land use effects, anthropogenic effects, adverse human health affects, adaptive management, ecosystem restoration, defoliation, ecosystem response , land management

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final