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Special Paper: A Global Biome Model Based on Plant Physiology and Dominance, Soil Properties and Climate

I. Colin Prentice, Wolfgang Cramer, Sandy P. Harrison, Rik Leemans, Robert A. Monserud and Allen M. Solomon
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 19, No. 2 (Mar., 1992), pp. 117-134
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845499
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845499
Page Count: 18
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Special Paper: A Global Biome Model Based on Plant Physiology and Dominance, Soil Properties and Climate
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Abstract

A model to predict global patterns in vegetation physiognomy was developed from physiological considerations influencing the distributions of different functional types of plant. Primary driving variables are mean coldestmonth temperature, annual accumulated temeprature over $5^\circC$, and a drought index incorporating the seasonality of precipitation and the available water capacity of the soil. The model predicts which plant types can occur in a given environment, and selects the potentially dominant types from among them. Biomes arise as combinations of dominant types. Global environmental data were supplied as monthly means of temperature, precipitation and sunshine (interpolated to a global 0.5⚬ grid, with a lapse-rate correction) and soil texture class. The resulting predictions of global vegetation patterns were in good agreement with the mapped distribution of actual ecosystem complexes (Olson, J.S., Watts, J.A. & Allison, L.J. (1983) ORNL-5862, Oak Ridge Nat. Lab., 164 pp.), except where intensive agriculture has obliterated the natural patterns. The model will help in assessing impacts of future climate changes on potential natural vegetation patterns, land-surface characteristics and terrestrial carbon storage, and in analysis of the effects of past climate change on these variables.

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