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Ecology of the Shortgrass SteppeA Long-Term Perspective$
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W. K. Lauenroth and I. C. Burke

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195135824

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195135824.001.0001

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The Shortgrass Steppe and Ecosystem Modeling

The Shortgrass Steppe and Ecosystem Modeling

(p.373) 15 The Shortgrass Steppe and Ecosystem Modeling
Ecology of the Shortgrass Steppe

William J. Parton

Stephen J. Del Grosso

Oxford University Press

Ecological modeling has played a key role in scientific investigations of the SGS LTER during the past several decades. The SGS LTER site, focused initially on the Central Plains Experimental Range (CPER), was the main grassland research site for the Grassland Biome component of the U.S. IBP effort (Lauenroth et al., this volume, chapter 1). Initial development of ecosystem models occurred from 1 970 to 1 975 as p art of t he I BP . All the U.S. I BP projects (grassland, tundra, desert, deciduous forest, and coniferous forest biomes) included research on the development of ecosystem models, with the goals of using models to help formulate and interpret field experiments, and of projecting the impact of changes in management practices on ecosystem dynamics. Models were developed as part of the Grassland Biome project (Bledsoe et al., 1971; Innis, 1978), and included modeling specialists who worked with research biologists on the development and formulation of the ecosystem models. The modeling activities of t he U.S. IBP Grassland Biome project included developing the ELM Grassland model (Innis, 1978). The ELM model was a complex process-oriented model that was intended to be used at all the Grassland Biome sites in the United States. This model was developed by postdoctoral fellows who were to formulate the different submodels, and then link the submodels using software that was developed as part of the program. The submodels included a plant production submodel, a cattle production submodel, a linked nutrient cycling and soil organic matter submodel, a grasshopper dynamics submodel, and a soil temperature and water submodel. Biophysical and biological data from the different sites were collected to develop and test the model. Model development was constrained by lack of knowledge about the biological processes that control ecosystem behavior, and by lack of appropriate data to test the ability of the model to simulate ecosystem responses to changes in grazing and fertility management practices. However, the ELM Grassland model was quite successful at investigating the interactions of different components of the ecosystem, and at helping to formulate new research efforts.

Keywords:   DAYCENT model, ELM Grassland model, GEM model, IBP Grassland Biome project, Nitrate, PHOENIX model, ROOT model, SPUR model

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