Modelling tropical diversity and forest functioning in space and time


Labex CEBA 2016- 2019


Jérôme CHAVE (EDB, Toulouse)
For EcoFoG: Bruno HERAULT

Scientific Partnership

  • EDB, Toulouse - France

Presentation of the project

There is mounting interest for applying modeling approaches to project future states of biodiversity and ecosystem functions in response to environmental changes. Although these approaches are currently being developed, few of them offer to study both biodiversity and ecosystem functioning facets in a single modeling framework. This is in part because modeling approaches have a different history and have been developed at different spatial scales. Individual-based dynamic forest simulators provide a means to bridge ecosystem-based and biodiversity viewpoints and to assimilate field and remote sensing data efficiently. The need for such integrated models is particularly pressing in tropical forests, as these forests play a pivotal role in the carbon cycle and they are exposed to major risks, such as land-use conversion, climatic changes, and logging. In the METIST project, we propose to (1) develop an individual-based forest dynamic simulator including the carbon, water, and nutrient balances, and including a species-level parameterization of the main plant-level processes for the tropical forest of French Guiana; (2) mobilize high-resolution remote sensing data (aerial LiDAR scanning) to inform plant allometry and canopy structural properties, as well as topographical features; (3) mobilize forest dynamic data to validate the model, implement a forest management module and a forest fire module; (4) as a exercise of the model’s scaling properties, scale-up the simulations to the entire area of French Guiana (c.a. 84,000 km2) making use of recent progress in our understanding of tree species distribution and ecological processes at this scale; (5) provide scenarios to assess the impacts of land use change, forest management and climatic change on selected forest types of French Guiana. The findings of this project should have an impact beyond French Guiana, in other Neotropical forests. It should also provide to the scientific community of Labex CEBA a modeling tool to assimilate information from several research lines (forest ecology, remote sensing, climate science, socioeconomics), and suggest optimal development paths for the coastal forests for regional policy and local managers of natural areas, who are faced with practical challenge of maintaining wood production while protecting biodiversity and carbon stocks.

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