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Title: Modeling forest landscape change in the Ozarks: guiding principles and preliminary implementation

Author: Shifley, Stephen R.; Thompson, Frank R., III; Larsen, David R.; Mladenoff, David J.

Year: 1997

Publication: In: Pallardy, Stephen G.; Cecich, Robert A.; Garrett, H. Gene; Johnson, Paul S., eds. Proceedings of the 11th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-188. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 231-241

Abstract: Although research and management approaches for ecosystem management have been troublesome to define, we believe a number of guidelines can be used to focus research. These include: (1) synthesize the extensive information describing hardwood ecosystem response to disturbance, (2) ensure that syntheses cross traditional boundaries between disciplines and resources, (3) develop principles that operate at the broad scale and avoid getting mired in excessive detail, (4) incorporate a modeling framework to organize information and relationships, and (5) focus on mechanisms of disturbance. Disturbance is a normal, ongoing process in Central Hardwood ecosystems. It takes many forms, but among the most extensive are weather damage, fire, and harvest and regeneration practices. Much is already known about how Central Hardwood forests respond to disturbance, but this knowledge is too poorly organized to allow us to explore the impacts of disturbance at the landscape scale. We present a structured framework for organizing and modeling ecosystem attributes (and their change over time) in Central Hardwood landscapes. The model is based on the premise that forest vegetation communities follow patterns of development that, although highly variable, have central tendencies that can be predicted through time with reasonable accuracy. After a vegetative community is altered by disturbance, it eventually resumes a characteristic (often highly stochastic) pattern of development. Although vegetation characteristics are dynamic in time, they are spatially anchored. Knowledge of the vegetation condition at a given place and time allows us to associate other ecosystem attributes that can be estimated from vegetation conditions (e.g., economic value, wildlife habitat suitability, scenic beauty). For a large forested landscape, a suitable minimum scale of analysis is the stand, typically about 5 ha in size with boundaries that often coincide with physiographic features. Patterns at this scale can be aggregated and analyzed to evaluate ecosystem attributes that operate at larger scales. Tools to facilitate this procedure are already available or can be adapted to the task. We recalibrated the LANDIS model for the species and conditions in the Missouri Ozarks and used that model to simulate landscape change through time. We demonstrate the model showing simulated patterns of disturbance and vegetation response for a small Ozark forest landscape.

Last Modified: 2/1/2007

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