A model for predicting continental-scale vegetation distribution and water balance
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Ronald P. Neilson
Publication Year: 1995

Cataloging Information

  • biogeography
  • climatic change
  • climatology
  • competition
  • deserts
  • distribution
  • fire models
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • hardwood forest
  • hydrology
  • LAI - leaf area index
  • leaves
  • light
  • MAPSS - the Mapped Atmosphere Plant Soil System
  • moisture
  • pine forests
  • precipitation
  • runoff
  • scrub
  • shrublands
  • shrubs
  • soil moisture
  • transpiration
  • vegetation distribution
  • water
  • woody plants
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 6829
Tall Timbers Record Number: 9918
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-E
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


A Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil System (MAPSS) has been constructed for simulating the potential biosphere impacts and biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks from climatic change. The system calculates the potential vegetation type and leaf area that could be supported at a site, within the constraints of the abiotic climate. Both woody vegetation and grass are supported and compete for light and water. The woody vegetation can be either trees or shrubs, evergreen or deciduous, and needleleaved or broadleaved. A complete site water balance is calculated and integrates the vegetation leaf area and stomatal conductance in canopy transpiration and soil hydrology. The MAPSS model accurately simulates the distributions of forests, grasslands, and deserts and reproduces observed monthly runoff. The model can be used for predictions of new vegetation distribution patterns, soil moisture, and runoff patterns in alternative climates.

Online Link(s):
Neilson, Ronald P. 1995. A model for predicting continental-scale vegetation distribution and water balance. Ecological Applications 5(2):362-385.