Journal Article

Improved simulation of poorly drained forests using Biome-BGC

Ben Bond-Lamberty, Stith T. Gower and Douglas E. Ahl

in Tree Physiology

Volume 27, issue 5, pages 703-715
Published in print May 2007 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online May 2007 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Improved simulation of poorly drained forests using Biome-BGC

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  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Forested wetlands and peatlands are important in boreal and terrestrial biogeochemical cycling, but most general-purpose forest process models are designed and parameterized for upland systems. We describe changes made to Biome-BGC, an ecophysiological process model, that improve its ability to simulate poorly drained forests. Model changes allowed for: (1) lateral water inflow from a surrounding watershed, and variable surface and subsurface drainage; (2) adverse effects of anoxic soil on decomposition and nutrient mineralization; (3) closure of leaf stomata in flooded soils; and (4) growth of nonvascular plants (i.e., bryophytes). Bryophytes were treated as ectohydric broadleaf evergreen plants with zero stomatal conductance, whose cuticular conductance to CO2 was dependent on plant water content. Individual model changes were parameterized with published data, and ecosystem-level model performance was assessed by comparing simulated output to field data from the northern BOREAS site in Manitoba, Canada. The simulation of the poorly drained forest model exhibited reduced decomposition and vascular plant growth (–90%) compared with that of the well-drained forest model; the integrated bryophyte photosynthetic response accorded well with published data. Simulated net primary production, biomass and soil carbon accumulation broadly agreed with field measurements, although simulated net primary production was higher than observed data in well-drained stands. Simulated net primary production in the poorly drained forest was most sensitive to oxygen restriction on soil processes, and secondarily to stomatal closure in flooded conditions. The modified Biome-BGC remains unable to simulate true wetlands that are subject to prolonged flooding, because it does not track organic soil formation, water table changes, soil redox potential or anaerobic processes.

Keywords: boreal forest; decomposition; moss growth; peatland modeling; soil flooding

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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