Climatic Change

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 265–289 | Cite as

Scaling Issues in Forest Succession Modelling

  • Harald Bugmann
  • Marcus Lindner
  • Petra Lasch
  • Michael Flechsig
  • Beatrix Ebert
  • Wolfgang Cramer


This paper reviews scaling issues in forest succession modelling, focusing on forest gap models. Two modes of scaling are distinguished: (1) implicit scaling, i.e. taking scale-dependent features into account while developing model equations, and (2) explicit scaling, i.e. using procedures that typically involve numerical simulation to scale up the response of a local model in space and/or time. Special attention is paid to spatial upscaling methods, and downscaling is covered with respect to deriving scenarios of climatic change to drive gap models in impact assessments. When examining the equations used to represent ecological processes in forest gap models, it becomes evident that implicit scaling is relevant, but has not always been fully taken into consideration. A categorization from the literature is used to distinguish four methods for explicit upscaling of ecological models in space: (1) Lumping, (2) Direct extrapolation, (3) Extrapolation by expected value, and (4) Explicit integration. Examples from gap model studies are used to elaborate the potential and limitations of these methods, showing that upscaling to areas as large as 3000 km2 is possible, given that there are no significant disturbances such as fires or insect outbreaks at the landscape scale. Regarding temporal upscaling, we find that it is important to consider migrational lags, i.e. limited availability of propagules, if one wants to assess the transient behaviour of forests in a changing climate, specifically with respect to carbon storage and the associated feedbacks to the atmospheric CO2 content. Regarding downscaling, the ecological effects of different climate scenarios for the year 2100 were compared at a range of sites in central Europe. The derivation of the scenarios is based on (1) imposing GCM grid-cell average changes of temperature and precipitation on the local weather records; (2) a qualitative downscaling technique applied by the IPCC for central and southern Europe; and (3) statistical downscaling relating large-scale circulation patterns to local weather records. Widely different forest compositions may be obtained depending on the local climate scenario, suggesting that the downscaling issue is quite important for assessments of the ecological impacts of climatic change on forests.


Climate Scenario Upscaling Statistical Downscaling Forest Composition Explicit Integration 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harald Bugmann
    • 1
  • Marcus Lindner
    • 1
  • Petra Lasch
    • 1
  • Michael Flechsig
    • 1
  • Beatrix Ebert
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Cramer
    • 1
  1. 1.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)PotsdamGermany

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