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Earth Interactions

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Ecosystem simulation models use descriptive input parameters to establish the physiology, biochemistry, structure, and allocation patterns of vegetation functional types, or biomes. For single-stand simulations it is possible to measure required data, but as spatial resolution increases, so too does data unavailability. Generalized biome parameterizations are then required. Undocumented parameter selection and unknown model sensitivity to parameter variation for larger-resolution simulations are currently the major limitations to global and regional modeling. The authors present documented input parameters for a process-based ecosystem simulation model, BIOME–BGC, for major natural temperate biomes. Parameter groups include the following: turnover and mortality; allocation; carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N); the percent of plant material in labile, cellulose, and lignin pools; leaf morphology; leaf conductance rates and limitations; canopy water interception and light extinction; and the percent of leaf nitrogen in Rubisco (ribulose bisphosphate-1,5-carboxylase/oxygenase) (PLNR). Using climatic and site description data from the Vegetation/Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project, the sensitivity of predicted annual net primary production (NPP) to variations in parameter level of ± 20% of the mean value was tested. For parameters exhibiting a strong control on NPP, a factorial analysis was conducted to test for interaction effects. All biomes were affected by variation in leaf and fine root C:N. Woody biomes were additionally strongly controlled by PLNR, maximum stomatal conductance, and specific leaf area while nonwoody biomes were sensitive to fire mortality and litter quality. None of the critical parameters demonstrated strong interaction effects. An alternative parameterization scheme is presented to better represent the spatial variability in several of these critical parameters. Patterns of general ecological function drawn from the sensitivity analysis are discussed.


Biogeochemical processes; Plant ecology; Land/atmosphere interactions



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