Modeling vegetation structure-ecosystem process interactions across sites and ecosystems
We describe an approach to investigating and understanding the interactions between vegetation structure and ecosystem processes that uses simulation models as a framework for comparison and synthesis across ecosystems arrayed along environmental gradients. The models are individual-based vegetation simulators and compartment models of nutrient cycling and soil water relations. Applications focus on interactions and feedbacks between vegetation structure (species composition, size structure) and ecosystem processes (water balance, nutrient cycling), and how these relationships vary across environmental gradients. Preliminary results indicate that life-history traits of plants have a profound influence on system-level behaviors, and that differences between grasslands and forests can be attributed largely to contrasting traits of grasses and trees. Experiments with linked vegetation-ecosystem process models diverge from simulations with either model run independently, suggesting the importance of feedbacks between details of vegetation pattern and ecosystem processes. The development of a fully coupled vegetation-ecosystem process model that is sufficiently general to simulate systems dominated by multiple lifeforms presents several conceptual, logistical, and scaling challenges, but also provides for new opportunities in ecosystem theory. © 1993.
Lauenroth, WK; Urban, DL; Coffin, DP; Parton, WJ; Shugart, HH; Kirchner, TB; Smith, TM
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)