Integrating models across temporal and spatial scales to simulate landscape patterns and dynamics in mountain pasture-woodlands

Context Pasture-woodlands are semi-natural landscapes that result from the combined influences of climate, management, and intrinsic vegetation dynamics. These landscapes are sensitive to future changes in land use and climate, but our ability to predict the impact on ecosystem service provisioning is limited due to the disparate scales in time and space that govern their dynamics. Objectives To develop a process-based model to simulate pasture-woodland landscapes and the provisioning of ecosystem services (i.e., livestock forage, woody biomass and landscape heterogeneity). Methods We modified a dynamic forest landscape model to simulate pasture-woodland landscapes in Switzerland. This involved including an annual herbaceous layer, selective grazing from cattle, and interactions between grazing and tree recruitment. Results were evaluated within a particular pasture, and then the model was used to simulate regional vegetation patterns and livestock suitability for a similar to 98,000 ha landscape in the Jura Vaudois region. Results The proportion of vegetation cover types at the pasture level (i.e., open, semi-open and closed forests) was well represented, but the spatial distribution of trees was only broadly similar. The entire Jura Vaudois region was simulated to be highly suitable for livestock, with only a small proportion being unsuitable due to steep slopes and high tree cover. High and low elevation pastures were equally suitable for livestock, as lower forage production at higher elevations was compensated by reduced tree cover. Conclusions The modified model is valuable for assessing landscape to regional patterns in vegetation and livestock, and offers a platform to evaluate how climate and management impact ecosystem services.

Published in:
Landscape Ecology, 32, 5, 1079-1096
Dordrecht, Springer

 Record created 2017-05-30, last modified 2019-08-29

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