Calibrating a forest landscape model to simulate frequent fire in Mediterranean-type shrublands

Alexandra D. Syphard, Jian Yang, Janet Franklin, Hong S. He, Jon E. Keeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs), fire disturbance influences the distribution of most plant communities, and altered fire regimes may be more important than climate factors in shaping future MTE vegetation dynamics. Models that simulate the high-frequency fire and post-fire response strategies characteristic of these regions will be important tools for evaluating potential landscape change scenarios. However, few existing models have been designed to simulate these properties over long time frames and broad spatial scales. We refined a landscape disturbance and succession (LANDIS) model to operate on an annual time step and to simulate altered fire regimes in a southern California Mediterranean landscape. After developing a comprehensive set of spatial and non-spatial variables and parameters, we calibrated the model to simulate very high fire frequencies and evaluated the simulations under several parameter scenarios representing hypotheses about system dynamics. The goal was to ensure that observed model behavior would simulate the specified fire regime parameters, and that the predictions were reasonable based on current understanding of community dynamics in the region. After calibration, the two dominant plant functional types responded realistically to different fire regime scenarios. Therefore, this model offers a new alternative for simulating altered fire regimes in MTE landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1641-1653
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship (52713B) to ADS. We are grateful to the scientists and staff at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, especially Robert Taylor, John Tiszler, Marti Witter, and Denise Kamradt. We also thank David Mladenoff, John O'Leary, Robert Scheller, and Bo Shang for their insights. Comments from Tony Jakeman and an anonymous reviewer were very helpful for improving the manuscript.


  • Calibration
  • Fire regime
  • Landscape model
  • Mediterranean-type ecosystems
  • Plant functional type
  • Scenario analysis
  • Southern California

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling


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