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Modelling carbon storage in highly fragmented and human-dominated landscapes: Linking land-cover patterns and ecosystem models

Publication Abstract

Robinson, D.T., Daniel Brown, and W.S. Currie. 2009. "Modelling carbon storage in highly fragmented and human-dominated landscapes: Linking land-cover patterns and ecosystem models." Ecological Modelling, 220(9-10): 1325-1338.

To extend coupled human-environment systems research and include the ecological effects of land-use and land-cover change and policy scenarios, we present an analysis of the effects of forest patch size and shape and landscape pattern on carbon storage estimated by BIOME-BGC. We evaluate the effects of including within-patch and landscape-scale heterogeneity in air temperature on carbon estimates using two modelling experiments. In the first, we combine fieldwork, spatial analysis, and BIOME-BGC at a 15-m resolution to estimate carbon storage in the highly fragmented and human-dominated landscape of Southeastern Michigan, USA. In the second, we perform the same analysis on 12 hypothetical landscapes that differ only in their degree of fragmentation. For each experiment we conduct four air-temperature treatments, three guided by field-based data and one empirically informed by local National Weather Service station data. The three field data sets were measured (1) exterior to a forest patch, (2) from the patch edge inward to 60 m on east-, south-, and west-facing aspects, separately, and (3) interior to that forest patch. Our field-data analysis revealed a decrease in maximum air temperature from the forest patch edge to a depth of 80 m. Within-patch air-temperature values were significantly different (alpha = 0.01) among transects (c.v. = 13.28) and for all measurement locations (c.v. = 30.58). Results from the first experiment showed that the interior treatment underestimated carbon storage by similar to 8000 Mg C and the exterior treatment overestimated carbon storage by 30,000 Mg C within Dundee Township, Southeastern Michigan, when compared to a treatment that included within-patch heterogeneity. in the second experiment we found a logarithmic increase in carbon storage with increasing fragmentation (r(2) = 0.91). While a number of other processes (e.g. altered disturbance frequency or severity) remain to be included in future experiments, this combined field and modelling study clearly demonstrated that the inclusion of within-patch and landscape heterogeneity, and landscape fragmentation, each have a strong effect on forest carbon cycling and storage as simulated by a widely used ecosystem process model. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

DOI:10.1016/j.ecolmodet.2009.02.020 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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