Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Model predicts evolution of Mediterranean landscape following fires

03.08.2009
An international research team has developed a mathematical and cartographical model that make it possible to view how Mediterranean landscapes evolve in the aftermath of forest fires. In order to carry out this research study, published recently in the journal Environmental Modelling & Software, the authors studied a Special Protection Area for Birds to the south west of Madrid.

"We have developed a model that shows on maps how various types of plants develop in a Mediterranean landscape, with the role of fire included as an integral feature in Mediterranean vegetation dynamics", Raúl Romero Calcerrada, a researcher in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Technology at the King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, and co-author of the study published online in the journal Environmental Modelling & Software, tells SINC.

The area studied was Special Protection Area for Birds (SPAB) number 56, which covers the Holm oak woodland along the Alberche and Cofio rivers to the south west of Madrid. "Although these results could also be extrapolated to other Mediterranean regions", Romero points out.

The model is an original one, which predicts the most probable way in which vegetation will develop according to the variables introduced. It takes into consideration parameters such as the dispersal of plants (by shoots or seeds), their distribution over space and time, and the resources they compete for (primarily light and water).

Such ecosystems can generally evolve from grassland to scrubland (with rock rose, lavender and broom), later to transitional woodland (with pines, juniper and some Holm oaks) and finally to a Holm oak forest over a period of around 100 years. However, this evolution may be affected by a range of factors.

The results show, for example, that if the ground is dry, or there is a lack of Holm oak acorns, a burned area can turn into a pine forest within 30 years. However, in good water and soil conditions, the ecosystem could develop into a deciduous chestnut and melojo oak forest.

"The intensity and number of fires have a direct effect on how the vegetation evolves and the types of plants that grow", says Romero, who also points to the significant influence of humans on this and other factors affecting Mediterranean areas. In fact, this research study is part of a broader study into changes in soil use in rural areas, and will be incorporated into other models to help decision making about land use in these areas.

Cellular automata to represent fire

"We used 'cellular automata' to represent how fires spread, bearing in mind the flammability of the ground cover, the gradient of the land, wind speed and moisture levels of the vegetation", the lead author of the study, James D. A. Millington, from Michigan State University in the United States, tells SINC. 'Cellular automata' are mathematical tools used in artificial intelligence to track the movement of linked objects within a grid (in this case a map).

Millington says this model is able to represent landscapes over areas in excess of 1,000 hectares on a map with high spatial resolution (of 0.01 - 10 ha) and over timescales ranging from annual to more than a century.

Aside from these two researchers, other scientists from the University of Auckland (New Zealand), and Sheffield University and King's College in London, in the United Kingdom, also took part in the study.

Reference: James D. A. Millington, John Wainwright, George L. W. Perry, Raul Romero-Calcerrada and Bruce D. Malamud. "Modelling Mediterranean landscape succession-disturbance dynamics: A landscape fire-succession model". Environmental Modelling & Software 24 (10): 1196-1208, 2009

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>