Disturbance modeling: Understanding and predicting forest disturbance dynamics

Presenting person: Dr. Rupert Seidl, Institute of Silviculture, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna (Homepage)
Th. 2013-10-17

Disturbances are important drivers of ecosystem dynamics and have a lasting impact on the structure, composition, and functioning of ecosystems. Mediated by changing climatic conditions and altered human land use disturbance regimes are intensifying in many forest ecosystems, a trend with detrimental effects on the provisioning of ecosystem goods and services. In order to prevent such impacts and adapt ecosystem management to intensifying disturbance regimes understanding their drivers and predicting their possible trajectories is of paramount importance.
In my talk I will review approaches of modeling forest disturbances, and suggest a general framework of process-based disturbance modeling. I will furthermore give examples of both explanatory and predictive disturbance modeling, focusing on disturbance from wind, bark beetles, and wildfire. In particular I will highlight the importance of considering multiple scales for understanding drivers disturbance regimes, and will elucidate on the role of dynamic interactions in space and time (e.g., between disturbance agents, between vegetation and disturbance dynamics) for predicting future trajectories of disturbance regimes.

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