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:
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
Frank E.C., Lee R. 1966. Potential solar beam irradiation on slopes: tables for 30 to 50 latitude. Rocky Mountain Forest Range Experiemental Station, Fort Collins, Colorado. Forest Service Research Paper RM-18 U.S.D.A. Forest Service.
Franklin, J. 1998 Predicting the distribution of shrub species in southern California from climate and terrain-derived variables Journal of Vegetation Science 9 733 748 Google Scholar Franklin, J.F., C.T., Dyrness. 1988Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington Oregon State University Press Corvallis, Oregon, USA Google Scholar Franklin, J., McCullough, P., Gray, C. 2000 Terrain variables used for predictive mapping of vegetation communities in Southern California. Wilson, J.P. Gallant, J.C. eds. Terrain Analysis: Principle and Applications John Wiley and Sons New York, New York USA 331 354 Google Scholar Fu, P., Rich, P.M. 1999Design and implementation of the Solar Analyst: an ArcView extension for modeling solar radiation at landscape scales Proceedings of the 19th Annual ESRI User Conference San DiegoUSA Google Scholar Geiger, R.J. 1965The Climate Near the Ground Harvard University Press CambridgeMassachusetts, USA Google Scholar
Greenland D. 1996. Potential solar radiation at the H J. Andrews experimental forest. Pacific Northwest Research Station, EugeneOregon, Interim Report PNW 93-0477, U.S.D.A. Forest Service.
Grier, C.C., Logan, R.S. 1977 Old-growth Pseudotsuga menziesi communities of a western Oregon watershed: biomass distribution and production budgets Ecological Monographs 47 373 400 Google Scholar Guisan, A., Theurillat, J., Kienast, F. 1998 Predicting the potential distribution of plant species in an alpine environment Journal of Vegetation Science 9 65 74 Google Scholar Kessell, S.R. 1979Gradient Modeling: Resource and Fire Management Springer-Verlag New York, New York USA Google Scholar Klein, S.A. 1977 Calculation of monthly average insolation on tilted surfaces Solar Energy 19 325 329 Google Scholar Lookingbill, T., Urban, D. 2003 Spatial estimation of air temperature differences for landscape-scale studies in montane environments Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 114 141 151 Google Scholar Lookingbill, T., Urban, D. 2004 An empirical approach towards improved spatial estimates of soil moisture for vegetation analysis Landscape Ecology 19 417 433 Google Scholar Mackey, B.G., Mullen, I.C., Baldwin, K.A., Gallant, J.C., Sims, R.A., McKenney, D.W. 2000 Towards a spatial model of boreal forest ecosystems: The role of digital terrain analysis. Wilson, J.P Gallant, J.C. eds. Terrain Analysis: Principle and Applications John Wiley and Sons New York, New York USA 391 427 Google Scholar McCay, D.H., Abrams, M.D., DeMeo, T.E. 1997 Gradient analysis of secondary forests of eastern West Virginia Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 124 160 173 Google Scholar McKenney, D.W., Mackey, B.G., Zavitz, B.L. 1999 Calibration and sensitivity analysis of a spatially-distributed solar radiation model International Journal of Geographical Information Science 13 49 65 Google Scholar Miller, C., Urban, D.L. 1999 A model of surface fireclimate and forest pattern in the Sierra NevadaCalifornia Ecological Modelling 114 113 135 Google Scholar Nikolov, N.T., Zeller, K.F. 1992 A solar radiation algorithm for ecosystem dynamic models Ecological Modelling 61 149 168 Google Scholar Park, A.D. 2001 Environmental influences on post-harvest natural regeneration in mexican pine-oak forests Forest Ecology and Management 144 213 228 Google Scholar Parker, A.J. 1995 Comparative gradient structure and forest cover types in Lassen Volcanic and Yosemite National Parks, California Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society 122 58 68 Google Scholar Raven, P.H., Evert, R.F., Eichhorn, S.E. 1992Biology of Plants Worth Publishers New York, New York USA Google Scholar Running, S.W., Nemani, R.R., Hungerford, R.D. 1987 Extrapolation of synoptic meteorological data in mountainous terrain and its use for simulating forest evapotranspiration and photosynthesis Canadian Journal of Forest Research 17 472 483 Google Scholar Smith, J. 2002Mapping the Thermal Climate of the H J. Andrews Experimental Forest Oregon. M.S. Thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA Google Scholar Stephenson, N.L. 1998 Actual evapotranspiration and deficit: biologically meaningful correlates of vegetation distribution across spatial scales Journal of Biogeography 25 855 870 Google Scholar
Stephenson N.L., Parsons D.J. 1993. A research program for predicting the effects of climate change on the Sierra Nevada. Viers S.D. Jr., Stohlgren T.J. and Schonewal-Cox C. (eds), Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Research in California’s National Parks. USDI Park Service Transactions and Proceedings Series 9, Denver Colorado pp. 93–109.
Swanson, F.J., Kratz, T.K., Caine, N., Woodmansee, R.G. 1988 Landform effects on ecosystem patterns and processes Bioscience 38 92 98 Google Scholar Thornton, P.E., Running, S.W., White, M.A. 1997 Generating surfaces of daily meteorological variables over large regions of complex terrain Journal of Hydrology 190 214 251 Google Scholar Urban, D.L., Miller, C., Halpin, P.N., Stephenson, N.L. 2000 Forest gradient response in Sierran landscapes: the physical template Landscape Ecology 15 603 620 Google Scholar Vankat, J.L., Major, J. 1978 Vegetation changes in Sequoia National Park, California Journal of Biogeography 5 377 402 Google Scholar Wilson, J.P., Gallant, J.C. 2000 Secondary topographic attributes. Wilson, J.P. Gallant, J.C. eds. Terrain Analysis: Principle and Applications John Wiley and Sons New York, New York USA 97 132 Google Scholar Whittaker, R.H. 1956 Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains Ecological Monographs. 26 1 80 Google Scholar Whittaker, R.H. 1960 Vegetation of the Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon and California Ecological Monographs 30 279 338 Google Scholar Yeakley, J.A., Swank, W.T., Swift, L.W., Hornberger, G.M., Shugart, H.H. 1998 Soil moisture gradients and controls on a southern Appalachian hillslope from drought through recharge Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 2 41 49 Google Scholar