Ecosystem dynamic models are useful for understanding ecosystem characteristics over time and space because of their efficiency over direct field measurements and applicability to broad spatial extents. Their application, however, is challenging due to internal model uncertainties and complexities arising from distinct qualities of the ecosystems being analyzed. The sagebrush-steppe ecosystem in western North America, for example, has substantial spatial and temporal heterogeneity as well as variability due to anthropogenic disturbance, invasive species, climate change, and altered fire regimes, which collectively make modeling dynamic ecosystem processes difficult. Ecosystem Demography (EDv2.2) is a robust ecosystem dynamic model, initially developed for tropical forests, that simulates energy, water, and carbon fluxes at fine scales. Although EDv2.2 has since been tested on different ecosystems via development of different plant functional types (PFT), it still lacks a shrub PFT. In this study, we developed and parameterized a shrub PFT representative of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems in order to initialize and test it within EDv2.2, and to promote future broad-scale analysis of restoration activities, climate change, and fire regimes in the sagebrush-steppe ecosystem. Specifically, we parameterized the sagebrush PFT within EDv2.2 to estimate gross primary production (GPP) using data from two sagebrush study sites in the northern Great Basin. To accomplish this, we employed a three-tier approach. (1) To initially parameterize the sagebrush PFT, we fitted allometric relationships for sagebrush using field-collected data, information from existing sagebrush literature, and parameters from other land models. (2) To determine influential parameters in GPP prediction, we used a sensitivity analysis to identify the five most sensitive parameters. (3) To improve model performance and validate results, we optimized these five parameters using an exhaustive search method to estimate GPP, and compared results with observations from two eddy covariance (EC) sites in the study area. Our modeled results were encouraging, with reasonable fidelity to observed values, although some negative biases (i.e., seasonal underestimates of GPP) were apparent. Our finding on preliminary parameterization of the sagebrush shrub PFT is an important step towards subsequent studies on shrubland ecosystems using EDv2.2 or any other process-based ecosystem model.
Pandit, K., Dashti, H., Glenn, N.F., Flores, A.N., Maguire, K.C., Shinneman, D.J., Flerchinger, G.N., and A.W. Fellows (2019): Developing and optimizing shrub parameters representing sagebrush (Artemisia spp) ecosystems in the northern Great Basin using the Ecosystem Demography (EDv22) model. Geosci. Model Dev.. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-12-4585-2019