Spatially explicit modelling of floodplain forest succession: Interactions among flood inundation, forest successional processes, and other disturbances in the Upper Mississippi River floodplain, USA

Ecological Modelling
By: , and 

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Abstract

Simulation models are often used to identify hydrologic regimes suitable for different riparian or floodplain tree species. However, most existing models pay little attention to forest successional processes or other disturbances that may interact with the hydrologic regime of river systems to alter forest dynamics in space and time. In this study, we introduce a flood disturbance module to the LANDIS-II forest succession modelling framework to enable investigations into how inundation interacts with other disturbances and successional processes to alter floodplain forest cover and community dynamics. We illustrate the functionality of the model using a case study with multiple scenarios in the Upper Mississippi River floodplain, USA. We found that model predictions of total forest cover and the abundance of specific forest community types were generally related to uncertainty in the susceptibility of different species and age classes to inundation. By simulation year 100, increases or decreases in total forest cover and forest type distributions were roughly proportional to the initial differences in the susceptibility of species and age classes to inundation. The largest decrease in total forest cover was associated with a scenario that included disturbance by the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and when using susceptibility parameters corresponding to the weakest flood tolerance. In contrast, changes in the composition of aboveground biomass were not sensitive to differences in susceptibility, and generally showed shifts toward later successional species with higher shade tolerance and longer lifespans for all scenarios. Our findings suggest that flood inundation interacts with other disturbances (e.g., insect outbreaks) and forest successional processes to alter forest abundance, distribution, and species composition in this system. Our modelling framework should allow for future studies that examine such interactions in other systems, and in the context of alternative hydrologic scenarios and other disturbance regimes.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatially explicit modelling of floodplain forest succession: Interactions among flood inundation, forest successional processes, and other disturbances in the Upper Mississippi River floodplain, USA
Series title Ecological Modelling
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2019.05.002
Edition Online First
Volume 405
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description 18 p.
First page 15
Last page 32
Country United States
State Minnesota, Wisconsin
Other Geospatial Upper Mississippi River
Online Only (Y/N) N