Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2021.109737
Document author version
Title (Primary) Do details matter? Disentangling the processes related to plant species interactions in two grassland models of different complexity
Author Wirth, S.B.; Taubert, F.; Tietjen, B.; Müller, C.; Rolinski, S.
Journal Ecological Modelling
Year 2021
Department OESA
Volume 460
Page From art. 109737
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Data and Software links
Keywords Grassland model; Model comparison; Process based modelling; Species interaction; Species traits; Drought
Abstract Biogeochemical models of vegetation dynamics could potentially be used to complement empirical studies on the effect of plant species richness. A key precondition is the simulation of species coexistence. While community scale models regularly incorporate respective processes, models at the field or landscape scale used for larger scale assessments, require additional model development. However, it is unclear how the particular process description within these models affects simulations of species performance and resulting ecosystem functions.
We compare simulations of two grassland models of different complexity for monocultures and two-species mixtures in a grassland experiment in Jena, Germany. By providing an in-depth analysis of the models’ process descriptions, we evaluate their ability to simulate the response of different species, their interactions and their joint performance to drought and mowing.
Both models simulated similar average above-ground biomass (AGB) but showed different intra-annual variability. Generally, the models had difficulties representing a balanced species composition in multiple species mixtures and competition for space was the main driver of community composition in both models. The resulting communities were dominated by the more competitive species, while the weak competitor was only marginally present in most mixtures independent of drought and mowing. The competitive strength which we derived from the calibrated parameter sets of the species differed between the models and the agreement on which species dominate specific mixtures was mixed. While both models simulated reduced soil water content and above-ground biomass in response to drought, the strength and duration of these responses differed. Despite these differences, simulated species interactions were barely affected, and strong competitors remained dominant. Mowing had opposing effects on the competition for space in the models, which could be attributed to the different representations of plants in the two models.
The models selected for the comparison are two representatives for local- and large-scale applications and use widely applied approaches for which our comparison highlighted strengths and weaknesses. To enable the investigated models (and those with similar complexity) to simulate coexistence of multiple species, niche differentiation needs to be improved. This requires a stricter separation of access to different resources and improved representation of different ecological strategies for which community scale models that are able to simulate coexistence may be an inspiration. Our approach may serve as an example for other modellers looking for ways to identify important model processes for further model development in the context of species interaction.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Wirth, S.B., Taubert, F., Tietjen, B., Müller, C., Rolinski, S. (2021):
Do details matter? Disentangling the processes related to plant species interactions in two grassland models of different complexity
Ecol. Model. 460 , art. 109737