Decreased water availability due to hydrologic modifications, groundwater withdrawal, and climate change threaten bottomland hardwood (BLH) forest communities. We used satellite-derived (MODIS) land-surface temperature (LST) data to investigate spatial heterogeneity of canopy temperature (an indicator of plant-water status) in a floodplain forest of the upper Sabine River for 2008–2014. High LST pixels were generally further from the river and at higher topographic locations, indicating lower water-availability. Increasing rainfall-derived soil moisture corresponded with decreased heterogeneity of LST between pixels but there was weaker association between Sabine River stage and heterogeneity. Stronger dependence of LST convergence on rainfall rather than river flow suggests that some regions are less hydrologically connected to the river, and vegetation may rely on local precipitation and other contributions to the riparian aquifer to replenish soil moisture. Observed LST variations associated with hydrology encourage further investigation of the utility of this approach for monitoring forest stress, especially with considerations of climate change and continued river management.
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Vol. 15 • No. sp9