image of the shortgrass steppe

Research Data Sets: Modeling and Synthesis

Forecasting how ecosystems respond to global change depends on identifying how key determinants of ecosystem structure and function will change, and how ecosystems may respond. Under conditions predicted by global climate models and shifts in land-use, it is unclear to what extent SGS will maintain its current structural and functional characteristics. Changes to SGS will affect not only the natural system, but also alter the relationship between the natural system, humans and land-use. In this sense, the SGS is similar to other grassland sites within the LTER network (SEV, JRN, KBS) that also sit at the interface between natural and human-managed systems. SGS researchers have a long and successful history of developing and using models to describe ecosystem dynamics and creating scenarios of potential responses of SGS structure and function to global change. To improve model-data synthesis at landscape scales, we incorporate land-use and physiography into spatially explicit variations of our existing models on soil development and food webs, and expand metapopulation models of prairie dog colony dynamics to incorporate historic and predicted land-use change.