Relationships among individual plant growth and the dynamics of populations and ecosystems
© 1992 by Chapman & Hall, New York, NY. Population- and ecosystem-level processes in forests have been increasingly studied with complex simulation models in recent years. These models have been advocated in part because analytical models have not been developed that accommodate several important features of population dynamics, and because many existing models do not make reasonable predictions. Here I argue i) that analyzable models are needed to facilitate understanding of results from large simulation models, and that ii) models that link population and ecosystem dynamics to the growth of individual plants can address many of the important processes associated with the dynamics of individual plants. I summarize an analytical approach that permits analysis of population thinning, density-independent mortality, gap area, net primary production, nutrient turnover, and the self-thinning rule in terms of parameters that describe growth of individual plants within the population. Analysis of these models here and elsewhere demonstrates relationships among these processes by exploiting the relationship of each to individual plant growth. The “stages” in stand development identified by forest ecologists arise as a natural consequence of individual plant growth. This approach is complementary to the more complex numerical models that have been a primary focus of much research on forest dynamics.
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