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Mechanistic Landscape Modeling of Drought Effects

Photo of Precipitation manipulation experiment, Sevellita LTER, New Mexico. The troughs exist to limit precipitation on plants, simulating drought conditions. William T. Pockman, University of New MexicoPrecipitation manipulation experiment, Sevellita LTER, New Mexico. The troughs exist to limit precipitation on plants, simulating drought conditions. William T. Pockman, University of New MexicoSnapshot : Drought is expected to become more prevalent and will probably be a major factor in increasing tree mortality. Landscape-scale forest models have very weak links between precipitation extremes and forest growth and mortality. Forest Service researchers developed a relatively mechanistic model to link water availability and tree species growth and tested it using data from a field precipitation manipulation experiment in a piñon-juniper ecosystem in New Mexico. The approach should better link temperature and precipitation to tree species competition for light and water in forest landscape models; thus, greatly improving their utility for climate change research.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Gustafson, Eric J. 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 597

Summary

Forest landscape models are used by managers and policy makers to make projections of future ecosystem dynamics, but the links in such models between the fundamental drivers of temperature and precipitation and the projected responses are weak and indirect. Forest Service researchers developed a relatively mechanistic method to simulate the effects of changing precipitation on species competition within the LANDIS-II Forest Landscape Simulation Model by embedding the net primary productivity, or PnET, ecophysiology model into the functions that compute species growth and competition. Capitalizing on data from a field precipitation manipulation experiment in a piñon-juniper ecosystem in New Mexico, researchers showed that the model successfully predicted growth and physiological stress under drought and irrigation treatments. The approach shows great promise for modeling the physiological effects of the competition for light and water as a primary determinant of the outcome of interacting succession and disturbance processes that structure forests at landscape scales.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Arjan De Bruijn, Purdue University
  • Robert E. Pangle, Jean-Marc Limousin,and William T. Pockman, University of New Mexico
  • and Nate G. McDowell and Jordan D. Muss, Los Alamos National Laboratory