A Caltech Library Service

Predicting Whole Forest Structure, Primary Productivity, and Biomass Density From Maximum Tree Size and Resource Limitations

Kempes, Christopher P. and Choi, Sungho and Dooris, William and West, Geoffrey B. (2015) Predicting Whole Forest Structure, Primary Productivity, and Biomass Density From Maximum Tree Size and Resource Limitations. . (Submitted)

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


In the face of uncertain biological response to climate change and the many critiques concerning model complexity it is increasingly important to develop predictive mechanistic frameworks that capture the dominant features of ecological communities and their dependencies on environmental factors. This is particularly important for critical global processes such as biomass changes, carbon export, and biogenic climate feedback. Past efforts have successfully understood a broad spectrum of plant and community traits across a range of biological diversity and body size, including tree size distributions and maximum tree height, from mechanical, hydrodynamic, and resource constraints. Recently it was shown that global scaling relationships for net primary productivity are correlated with local meteorology and the overall biomass density within a forest. Along with previous efforts, this highlights the connection between widely observed allometric relationships and predictive ecology. An emerging goal of ecological theory is to gain maximum predictive power with the least number of parameters. Here we show that the explicit dependence of such critical quantities can be systematically predicted knowing just the size of the largest tree. This is supported by data showing that forests converge to our predictions as they mature. Since maximum tree size can be calculated from local meteorology this provides a general framework for predicting the generic structure of forests from local environmental parameters thereby addressing a range of critical Earth-system questions.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Kempes, Christopher P.0000-0002-1622-9761
Additional Information:The authors thank Suzanne Kern for comments on the manuscript. C.P.K thanks the Santa Fe Institute for support. S.C. was supported by the Fulbright Program for graduate studies and the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program (Grant NNX13AP55H). GBW would like to thank the John Templeton Foundation (grant no. 15705) and the Eugene and Clare Thaw Charitable Trust for their generous support. The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Santa Fe InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Fulbright FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NASA Earth and Space Science FellowshipNNX13AP55H
John Templeton Foundation15705
Eugene and Clare Thaw Charitable TrustUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160919-103103332
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:70423
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Sep 2016 17:29
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

Repository Staff Only: item control page