, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 27-39

Mediterranean vegetation dynamics: modelling problems and functional types

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Gap models have been applied to a wide range of ecosystems, mainly temperate and boreal forests, but rarely have such models been applied to Mediterranean ecosystems. In the present review we address some problems of gap models for predicting the long-term dynamics of Mediterranean ecosystems, and we suggest plant functional types suitable for modelling based on responses to disturbance. Most gap models do not take into account different life forms, interactions with fire (e.g., resprouting and stimulation of the germination), and underground structures. Long term human impact on Mediterranean ecosystems has made a significant impact on the current landscapes. That intense land use, involving long-lived slow-growing species, has had long-term consequences. It is not possible to understand Mediterranean vegetation and to validate any model without considering these factors. The lack of data for Mediterranean species may be overcome by taking into account correlations of traits and trade-offs between different functional types. A simple disturbance-based functional group system is discussed.