Uncovering competitive mechanisms of tree competition with data assimilation

Uncovering competitive mechanisms of tree competition with data assimilation

Marissa Kivi

Kivi Forest DataOutline of parameter analysis from Harvard Forest data completed in the summer of 2018

Understanding competitive interactions between tree species is critical to accurately predicting how forest communities will adapt to future shifts in climate and land use. However, the complexity and extended time scale associated with these interactions limit our understanding of them. Using data-informed models, I hope to better understand the increasingly important oak-maple dynamic in the northeastern forests of the United States.

I plan to assimilate statistically-estimated tree-ring forest biomass data from 3-4 New England locations into the LINKAGES forest-gap simulation model, to run the model at each of the different sites, and, then, to analyze the resulting data to determine the species parameters and environmental conditions most significant to the forest composition observed at each site. The analysis will be done via a diagnostic program that determines important differences between model runs through correlation coefficient analyses and visual forest characterizations.

With the program results, I will be able to better understand and characterize oak-maple interactions by pinpointing the most crucial factor in the complex forest ecosystem leading to the domination of one species over another. Such details will make conservation efforts in New England more effective and purposeful in the future.