Skip to Main Content
When relationships estimated in the past cannot be used to predict the future: using mechanistic models to predict landscape ecological dynamics in a changing worldAuthor(s): Eric J. Gustafson
Source: Landscape Ecology. 28: 1429-1437.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
View PDF (170.16 KB)
DescriptionResearchers and natural resource managers need predictions of how multiple global changes (e.g., climate change, rising levels of air pollutants, exotic invasions) will affect landscape composition and ecosystem function. Ecological predictive models used for this purpose are constructed using either a mechanistic (process-based) or a phenomenological (empirical) approach, or combination. Given the accelerating pace of global changes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to trust future projections made by phenomenological models estimated under past conditions. Using forest landscape models as an example, I review current modeling approaches and propose principles for developing the next generation of landscape models. First, modelers should increase the use of mechanistic components based on appropriately scaled "first principles" even though such an approach is not without cost and limitations. Second, the interaction of processes within a model should be designed to minimize a priori constraints on process interactions and mimic how interactions play out in real life. Third, when a model is expected to make accurate projections of future system states it must include all of the major ecological processes that structure the system.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationGustafson, Eric J. 2013. When relationships estimated in the past cannot be used to predict the future: using mechanistic models to predict landscape ecological dynamics in a changing world. Landscape Ecology. 28: 1429-1437.
KeywordsLandscape modeling, Forests, Disturbances, Climate change, Global changes, Mechanistic modeling, Empirical modeling, Phenomenological modeling
- Do rising temperatures always increase forest productivity? Interacting effects of temperature, precipitation, cloudiness and soil texture on tree species growth and competition
- Approaches to incorporating climate change effects in state and transition simulation models of vegetation
- Dynamic-landscape metapopulation models predict complex response of wildlife populations to climate and landscape change
XML: View XML