Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Remote Sensing


Earth and Environmental Sciences


Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology


The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2 ) from the atmosphere is expected to be altered by climate change and CO2 fertilization, but this projection is limited by our understanding of how the soil system interacts with plants. Understanding the soil–vegetation interactions is essential to assess the magnitude and response of terrestrial ecosystems to the changing climate. Here, we used soil profile and satellite data to explore the role that soil properties play in regulating water and carbon use by plants. Data obtained for 19 terrestrial ecosystem sites in a warm temperate and humid climate were used to investigate the relationship between remotely sensed data and soil physical and chemical properties. Classification and regression tree results showed that in situ soil carbon isotope (δ 13C), and soil order were significant predictors (r2 = 0.39, mean absolute error (MAE) = 0 of 0.175 gC/KgH2O) of remotely sensed water use efficiency (WUE) based on the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Soil extractable calcium (Ca), and land cover type were significant predictors of remotely sensed carbon use efficiency (CUE) based on MODIS and Landsat data-(r2 = 0.64–0.78, MAE = 0.04–0.06). We used gross primary productivity (GPP) derived from solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) data, based on the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), to calculate WUE and CUE (referred to as WUESIF and CUESIF, respectively) for our study sites. The regression tree analysis revealed that soil organic matter and soil extractable magnesium (Mg), δ 13C, and soil silt content were the important predictors of both WUESIF (r2 = 0.19, MAE = 0.64 gC/KgH2O) and CUESIF (r2 = 0.45, MAE = 0.1), respectively. Our results revealed the importance of soil extractable Ca, soil carbon (S13C is a facet of soil carbon content), and soil organic matter predicting CUE and WUE. Insights gained from this study highlighted the importance of biotic and abiotic factors regulating plant and soil interactions. These types of data are timely and critical for accurate predictions of how terrestrial ecosystems respond to climate change.


This is a peer-reviewed article published by MDPI in Remote Sensing, available at

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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