Adapting a Model to Estimate Gross Primary Production of the Sagebrush Ecosystem

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The sagebrush-steppe in western North America is a spatially heterogeneous ecosystem shaped by complex dynamics, making modeling characteristics such as ecosystem primary production extremely difficult.

The Ecosystem Demography model was initially developed for tropical forests to simulate energy, water, and carbon fluxes, yet this model lacks a way to determine how shrublands contribute to ecosystem change. Researchers aimed to adapt the model to estimate gross primary production (GPP) for sagebrush ecosystems, and to promote future broad-scale analysis of restoration activities, climate change, and fire regimes. They used field-collected data and information from existing literature and other land models, and identified the five most sensitive shrub parameters to estimate GPP. Modeled results were encouraging, with reasonable fidelity to observed values, although some negative biases such as seasonal underestimates of GPP were apparent.


Pandit, K., Dashti, H., Glenn, N.F., Flores, A.N., Maguire, K.C., Shinneman, D.J., Flerchinger, G.N., Fellows, A.W., 2019, Developing and optimizing shrub parameters representing sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystems in the northern Great Basin using the Ecosystem Demography (EDv2.2) model: Geoscientific Model Development, v. 12, p. 4585–4601,

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Date published: November 20, 2017
Status: Active

Fire Ecology in Dynamic Ecosystems Team (FRESC)

Understanding how fire and other disturbances affect ecosystem health and resiliency is critically important for land managers and for society as a whole.