12. Modelling Plant Ecology

  1. John Wainwright2 and
  2. Mark Mulligan3
  1. Rosie A. Fisher

Published Online: 31 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118351475.ch12

Environmental Modelling: Finding Simplicity in Complexity, Second Edition

Environmental Modelling: Finding Simplicity in Complexity, Second Edition

How to Cite

Fisher, R. A. (2013) Modelling Plant Ecology, in Environmental Modelling: Finding Simplicity in Complexity, Second Edition (eds J. Wainwright and M. Mulligan), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118351475.ch12

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Geography, Durham University, Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK

  2. 3

    Department of Geography, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK

Author Information

  1. CGD/NCAR, PO Box 3000, Boulder CO, 80307-3000, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 31 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470749111

Online ISBN: 9781118351475



  • climate change;
  • dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs);
  • gap models;
  • plant ecology;
  • soil-vegetation-atmosphere-transfer (SVAT) models


The study of plant ecology - the interactions between plants and between plants and their environment — can be and is undertaken by scientists at numerous spatial and temporal scales. This chapter considers the complexities involved in predicting the response of the global biosphere to climate change. The chapter reviews the three main classes of predictive models, namely, gap models, soil-vegetation-atmosphere-transfer (SVAT) models, and dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs). It explains the ways in which both new and established models use the complex-adaptive properties of ecosystems to assist with simplification of predictions in each approach. Recently, a new ‘second generation’ of vegetation models has been developed that combines the global prediction capacity of DGVMs with the ecological process representation of gap models. Ideally, future vegetation models should be able to represent the scope and co-existence of more numerous vegetation types.