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Testing Forest‐BGC Ecosystem Process Simulations Across a Climatic Gradient in Oregon

Running, Steven W.
Ecological applications 1994 v.4 no.2 pp. 238-247
biomass, carbon, data collection, ecosystems, evapotranspiration, leaf area index, leaf water potential, leaves, models, nitrogen content, nitrogen cycle, photosynthesis, primary productivity, research programs, rooting, soil, transpiration, water holding capacity, Oregon
Field measurements from the Oregon Transect Ecological Research project (OTTER) were used to validate selected process simulations in the FOREST—BGC ecosystem model. Certain hydrologic, carbon, and nitrogen cycle process simulations were tested in this validation, either comparatively across sites, or seasonally at single sites. The range of simulated ecosystem—process rates across the OTTER sites was large; annual evapotranspiration (ET) ranged from 15 to 82 cm, net photosynthesis (as carbon) from 2.2 to 22.8 Mg/ha, and decomposition (as carbon) from 1.0 to 7.2 Mg°ha— ¹°yr— ¹. High correlations between predicted and measured data were found for: aboveground net primary production, R² = 0.82; 100—yr stem biomass, R² = 0.79; and average leaf nitrogen concentration, R² = 0.88. However, correlations for pre—dawn leaf water potential and equilibrium leaf area index (LAI) were much lower, because successful simulation of these variables requires accurate data for soil water—holding capacity. Defining the water—holding capacity of the rooting zone and the maximum surface conductance for photosynthesis and transpiration rates proved to be critical system variables that defied routine field measurement. Although many other processes are simulated in FOREST—BGC, no other processes had repeated field data sets for validations. Problems in parameterizing the model from disparate data sets are also evaluated, with suggestions for using ecosystem modeling in future integrated research programs.