Linking phenological indices from digital cameras in Idaho and Montana to MODIS NDVI

Joseph St Peter, John Hogland, Mark Hebblewhite, Mark A. Hurley, Nicole Hupp, Kelly Proffitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Digital cameras can provide a consistent view of vegetation phenology at fine spatial and temporal scales that are impractical to collect manually and are currently unobtainable by satellite and most aerial based sensors. This study links greenness indices derived from digital images in a network of rangeland and forested sites in Montana and Idaho to 16-day normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Multiple digital cameras were placed along a transect at each site to increase the observational footprint and correlation with the coarser MODIS NDVI. Digital camera phenology indices were averaged across cameras on a site to derive phenological curves. The phenology curves, as well as green-up dates, and maximum growth dates, were highly correlated to the satellite derived MODIS composite NDVI 16-day data at homogeneous rangeland vegetation sites. Forested and mixed canopy sites had lower correlation and variable significance. This result suggests the use of MODIS NDVI in forested sites to evaluate understory phenology may not be suitable. This study demonstrates that data from digital camera networks with multiple cameras per site can be used to reliably estimate measures of vegetation phenology in rangelands and that those data are highly correlated to MODIS 16-day NDVI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1612
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Digital photography
  • Growing season
  • NDVI
  • Phenocam
  • Phenology
  • RGB camera
  • Rangeland
  • Understory productivity
  • Vegetation


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