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Dynamic Vegetation Modeling: Driving Management Changes Today by Looking into the Past and Future


State-and-transition models—both quantitative and conceptual—can be used to collaboratively document the current knowledge of vegetation dynamics, test alternative management scenarios, and identify data gaps in land management. The national LANDFIRE project, a five-year collaboration among the USDA Forest Service, Department of the Interior, and The Nature Conservancy, will create hundreds of state-and-transition models for vegetation systems across the United States LANDFIRE vegetation dynamics models capture historic reference conditions,  and can be easily modified for other uses. For example, models can be altered to reflect finer scale reference conditions, describe current conditions, analyze alternative management, conservation, or climate scenarios, or test the effects of fire and other disturbances.

This paper demonstrates the state-and-transition modeling tools used in LANDFIRE, including use of VDDT (Vegetation Dynamics Development Tool) software. A case study from Colorado’s San Luis Valley shows how the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado State Forest Service, and The Nature Conservancy used models calibrated by local ecological knowledge and fire history data to engage the public and inform management decisions related to fire ecology and conservation.

Published in Proceedings, Society of American Foresters National Convention. Fort Worth, TX. October 19-23, 2005. 10 pp.

Kelly Pohl, Terri Schulz, Ernst Strenge, Mike Babler, Ayn Shlisky