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FATE-HD: a spatially and temporally explicit integrated model for predicting vegetation structure and diversity at regional scale



During the last decade, despite strenuous efforts to develop new models and compare different approaches, few conclusions have been drawn on their ability to provide robust biodiversity projections in an environmental change context. The recurring suggestions are that models should explicitly (i) include spatiotemporal dynamics; (ii) consider multiple species in interactions and (iii) account for the processes shaping biodiversity distribution. This article presents a biodiversity model (FATE-HD) that meets this challenge at regional scale by combining phenomenological and process-based approaches and using well-defined plant functional groups. FATE-HD has been tested and validated in a French National Park, demonstrating its ability to simulate vegetation dynamics, structure and diversity in response to disturbances and climate change. The analysis demonstrated the importance of considering biotic interactions, spatio-temporal dynamics and disturbances in addition to abiotic drivers to simulate vegetation dynamics. The distribution of pioneer trees was particularly improved, as were all undergrowth functional groups.