Ecosystem model simulations of effects of soil and fire on prairie-forest ecosystem states
FormatThe raw model output as hdf5.
Date created2018 – 2019
DescriptionIn the Midwest, woodland and prairie ecosystems historically existed side-by-side, with sharp transitions between the two. Understanding how this boundary developed is crucial to understanding how climate change will affect this boundary. Fire, soil water holding capacity, and climate play major roles in ecosystem development on a global scale. However, their roles are difficult to discern at the local scale. We designed a factorial experiment that tested the effects of climate as a driver and two soil parameters that regulate fire events: texture, which regulates soil water holding capacity, and the moisture threshold, which prevents fire from occurring. We ran the model Ecosystem Demography 2.0 (ED2) for 500 years, allowing the ecosystems to self-assemble into a simplified grass-oak system via primary succession. With fire turned off, none of the ecosystems developed into a prairie. With fire turned on, the fire return interval varied between 1 and 8 years. Interestingly, a longer fire return interval of 7 to 8 years generated forested ecosystems in soils with a high water holding capacity and prairie ecosystems in soils with a low water holding capacity. This suggests that both fire and soil are important influences in the development of prairie ecosystems.
Spatial CoverageGlacial Lakes State Park, MN (45.54127˚N, -95.5313˚E).