A simple method for estimating potential relative radiation (PRR) for landscape-scale vegetation analysis Research article Received: 28 May 2003 Accepted: 12 July 2004 DOI:
10.1007/s10980-004-1296-6 Cite this article as: Pierce, K., Lookingbill, T. & Urban, D. Landscape Ecol (2005) 20: 137. doi:10.1007/s10980-004-1296-6 Abstract
Radiation is one of the primary influences on vegetation composition and spatial pattern. Topographic orientation is often used as a proxy for relative radiation load due to its effects on evaporative demand and local temperature. Common methods for incorporating this information (i.e.
, site measures of slope and aspect) fail to include daily or annual changes in solar orientation and shading effects from local topography. As a result, these static measures do not incorporate the level of spatial and temporal heterogeneity required to examine vegetation patterns at the landscape level. We developed a widely applicable method for estimating potential relative radiation (PRR) using digital elevation data and a widely used geographic information system (Arc/Info). We found significant differences among four increasingly comprehensive radiation proxies. Our GIS-based proxy compared well with estimates from more data-intensive and computationally rigorous radiation models. We note that several recent studies have not found strong correlations between vegetation pattern and landscape-scale differences in radiation. We suggest that these findings may be due to the use of proxies that were not accurately capturing variability in radiation, and we recommend PRR or similar measures for use in future vegetation analyses. Keywords Aspect DEM GIS Solar insolation Species-environment interactions Topographic effects Vegetation distribution References Austin, M.P., Nicholls, A.O., Margules, C.R. 1990 Measurement of the Realized Qualitative Niche: Environmental Niches of Five Eucalyptus Species Ecological Monographs 60 161 177 Google Scholar Band, L.E., Peterson, D.L., Running, S.W., Coughlan, J., Lammers, R., Dungan, J., Nemani, R. 1991 Forest ecosystem process at the watershed scale: basis for distributed simulation Ecological Modelling 56 171 196 Google Scholar Beers, T.W., Press, P.E., Wensel, L.C. 1966 Aspect transformation in site productivity research Journal of Forestry 64 691 692 Google Scholar Bolstad, P., Swank, W., Vose, J. 1998 Predicting southern Appalachian overstory vegetation with digital terrain data Landscape Ecology 13 695 707 Google Scholar Bonan, G.B. 1988Environmental processes and vegetation patterns in boreal forests Ph.D. Thesis University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleVirginiaUSA Google Scholar Brown, D.G. 1994 Predicting vegetation types at treeline using topography and biophysical disturbance variables Journal of Vegetation Science 5 641 656 Google Scholar Bunn, A.G., Lawrence, R.L., Bellante, G.J., Waggoner, L.A., Graumlich, L.J. 2003 Spatial variation in distribution and growth patterns of old growth strip-bark pines Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 35 323 330 Google Scholar Callaway, R.M., Clebsch, E.E.C., White, P.S. 1998 A Multivariate analysis of forest communities in the western Great Smoky Mountains national park American Midland Naturalist 118 107 118 Google Scholar Campbell, G.S., Norman, J.M. 1998An Introduction to Environmental Biophysics Springer New Jersey, USA Google Scholar Chen, J., Saunders, S.C., Crow, T.R., Naiman, R.J., Brosofske, K.D., Mroz, G.D., Brookshire, B.L., Franklin, J.F. 1999 Microclimate in forest ecosystem and landscape ecology Bioscience 49 288 97 Google Scholar Clinton, B.D., Boring, L.R., Swank, W.T. 1994 Regeneration patterns in canopy gaps of mixed-oak forests of the Southern Appalachians: Influences of topographic position and evergreen understory American Midland Naturalist 132 308 319 Google Scholar Daly, C., Neilson, R.P., Phillips, D.L. 1994 A statistical-topographic model for mapping climatological precipitation over mountainous terrain Journal of Applied Meteorology 33 140 158 Google Scholar Davis., F.W., Goetz, S. 1990 Modeling vegetation pattern using digital terrain data Landscape Ecology 4 69 80 Google Scholar Day, F.P., Monk, C.D. 1974 Vegetation patterns on a southern Appalachian watershed Ecology 55 1064 1074 Google Scholar Donnegan., J.A., Rebertus, A.J. 1999 Rates and mechanisms of subalpine forest succession along an environmental gradient Ecology 80 1370 1384 Google Scholar Dozier, J., Frew, J. 1990 Rapid calculation of terrain parameters for radiation modeling from digital elevation data IEEE Transaction on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 28 963 969 Google Scholar Dubayah, R.C. 1994 Modeling a solar radiation topoclimatology for the Rio Grande River Basin Journal of Vegetation Science 5 627 640 Google Scholar Dubayah, R., Rich, P.M. 1995 Topographic solar radiation models in GIS International Journal of Geographical Information Systems 9 405 419 Google Scholar Dyrness, C.T., Franklin, J.F., Moir, W.H. 1974A preliminary classification of forest communities in the central portion of the Western Cascades in Oregon Forestry Sciences Laboratory USDA Forest ServiceCorvallis, Oregon, USA Google Scholar ESRI, ARC/Info 7 1994Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc Redlands, CAUSA Google Scholar
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