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Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil System Study

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Pacific Northwest Research Station
Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil System Study

Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory
3200 SW Jefferson Way
Corvallis, Oregon 97331

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

MAPSS Home > Publications > Abstract: Bachelet et al 2000



Bachelet, D.; Lenihan, J.; Daly, C.; Neilson, R. 2000. Interactions between fire, grazing, and climate change at Wind Cave National Park, S.D. Ecological Modelling. 134: 229-244.

Projected changes in global climate have important ramifications for the future of national parks and other reserves set aside to conserve ecological uniqueness. We explored potential implications of climate changes on life-form distribution and growth at Wind Cave National Park (WCNP), South Dakota, which lies on a climatically determined ecotone between grassland and forest. Fire, promoted by healthy grasslands, is a negative feedback limiting tree development because it kills seedlings and consumes live foliage, thus reducing tree growth and survival. Historical records show that fire suppression has enhanced forest expansion. On the other hand, livestock grazing reduces grass biomass and fuel loads thus indirectly reducing fire frequency and enhancing the expansion of forests or woodlands. Natural fires and moderate grazing by native herbivores have maintained the coexistence of trees and grasses but climatic variations affecting the area's water resources can lead to dominance by either life form. We used a dynamic vegetation model (DVM), MC1, to simulate the interactions among climate changes, natural fire regime, and grazing pressure and their impact on the biogeographical and biogeochemical characteristics of the park. We used one future climate projection (HADCM2SUL) that simulates warmer weather by the end of the next century: the temperature increase would constrain the growth of trees that rely on the availability of deep water, favor shrub and grass development, and promote a shift from forests to woodlands. Woody encroachment of shrubs in grasslands areas, enhanced by grazing, was only held in check by frequent natural fires in the simulation.

USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station, Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil System Study
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:44 CST

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