Aim A regional model of vegetation dynamics was enhanced to include biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and was then applied to a forest transect in east China (FTEC) in order to investigate the responses of the transect to possible global change.
Location Eastern China.
Methods Biomass and nitrogen concentration of green and nongreen portions of vegetation, moisture contents of three soil layers, and total and available soil nitrogen are included as state variables in the enhanced model. The model was parameterized and validated against field observations of biomass, productivity, plant and soil nitrogen concentration, nitrogen uptake, a vegetation index derived from satellite remote sensing and digital maps of vegetation and soil distributions along a forest transect in eastern China (FTEC). The model was applied to FTEC in order to investigate the responsive characteristics of the ecosystems to global climatic change. Scenarios of climate change under doubled CO2 produced by seven general circulation models (GCM) were used to drive the model.
Results The simulations indicated that the model is capable of simulating accurately potential vegetation distribution and net primary productivity under contemporary climatic conditions. The simulations for GCM-projected future climate scenarios with doubled atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted that broadleaf forests would increase, but conifer forests, shrubs and grasses would decrease; and that deciduous forests would have the largest relative increase, but evergreen shrubs would have the largest decrease.
Conclusions The overall effects of doubling CO2 and climatic changes on FTEC were to produce an increased net primary productivity (NPP) at equilibrium for all seven GCM scenarios. The inclusion of nitrogen dynamics in the model imposes more constraint on the responses of FTEC to climatic change than the previous version of the model without nitrogen dynamics. Temperature exerts a stronger control on NPP than precipitation, as indicated by the negative correlations between NPP and temperature. The southern portion of FTEC, at latitudes less than 33 °N, show much larger increases in annual NPP than in the north. However, the predicted range of NPP increases is much larger in the north than in the south.