Linking plant ecophysiology to the dynamics of diverse communities
1Max Planck Institut für Biogeochemie, P.O. Box 10 01 64, 07701 Jena, Germany
2Biogeographical Modelling, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
3International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling, Hamburg, Germany
4Institute of Geography, University Bonn, Bonn, Germany
Abstract. The local climate represents the primary selection pressure acting on vegetation, but competitive interactions between plant strategies determine their composition. We link growth and reproduction characteristics from different plant strategies, that emerge from climatic constraints, to their competitive abilities and calculate explicitly their spatial dynamics. DIVE (Dynamics and Interactions of VEgetation), a simple generic model is built, that calculates population dynamics in the presence of perturbations, seed and resource competition. To understand the impacts of competition and perturbations on the population dynamics, a range of sensitivity experiments are conducted. DIVE simulations feature successional dynamics from fast-growing towards slow-growing plant strategies and as such corresponds to widely observed characteristics of terrestrial vegetation. Perturbations, seed and resource competition were found to affect succession and diversity, with the community composition at steady state ranging from competitive exclusion to coexistence and total extinction. We conclude that linking ecophysiological characteristics of vegetation to competition is a valid approach to determine population dynamics. Furthermore, incorporating mechanisms of perturbations and competition may be essential in order to effectively predict the response of community dynamics to changing environmental conditions.