Forest Ecologist U.S. Forest Service, United States
Background/Question/Methods Plant community dynamics are the sum of the spatiotemporal biotic-abiotic interactions and associated disturbance regimes occurring across landscapes. Various entities have undertaken community modeling to understand, describe, and communicate ecosystem function, productivity, and potential. Modeling these dynamics has taken many forms utilizing slightly different parameters. We will describe examples from the United States where multiple terrestrial classifications can interact to describe vegetation dynamics. The US Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Ecological Sites and LANDFIRE Biophysical Settings are two related approaches to conceptualizing and mapping landscapes and their vegetation dynamics through probabilistic and deterministic state-and-transition models and geospatial outputs. We will then explore how USNVC units can enhance these models by describing component vegetation states within these models through a crosswalk exercise.
Results/Conclusions Each crosswalk example will illustrate common themes and challenges with integrating these classifications. The integration of the USNVC into complimentary dynamic classifications allows for standardization of vegetation language across landscapes and management entities. This standardization creates opportunities for more collaborative land stewardship that is not constrained by anthropogenic boundaries. Specific challenges associated with this integration are encountered where USNVC data and descriptions are limited or incomplete, resulting in potential knowledge gaps. Similarly, inconsistent hierarchical scales in the final crosswalk shed light on the importance of striving for a national consistency of units to maximize utility. Finally, we will explore further areas of applications of these classifications to resource condition assessment and climate change analysis.