Eco-evolutionary Vegetation Modeling and Management

The development of eco-evolutionary models will allow scientists to better understand how plants around the world respond to climate change and disturbances such as fires and grazing.

©2011 iStockphoto LP

©2011 iStockphoto LP

The tremendous variation in vegetation across the globe reflects the extensive differences in the diversity, structure, and functioning of ecosystems. These variations emerge through physiological, ecological, and evolutionary processes at different scales.

Current global vegetation models do not account for many of these variations and processes. The resulting uncertainties in such things as the distribution of key plant types limit the understanding of vegetation patterns in response to climate change and damage from fires, strong winds, heavy grazing, and harvesting – jointly known as disturbance events.

To address these challenges, IIASA’s Evolution and Ecology Program has developed a model describing how plant functional traits and the resulting vegetation properties change based on disturbance events and site productivity. At the same time, the Institute’s Ecosystems Services and Management Program has shown how an individual plant’s responses to global change, such as its ability to increase its CO2 concentration and nutrient deposition, can be explained by optimal acclimation.

Through collaboration between the two programs, this project will strive to combine these approaches by developing eco-evolutionary vegetation models that scale up individual eco-physiological processes to population-wide demographic changes in order to fully describe vegetation diversity, structure, and functioning. These models should improve the ability to predict vegetation responses to climate change and disturbance events and may interface with other IIASA frameworks for predicting anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems.

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Last edited: 21 January 2019


Darina Zlatanova

Program and Project Officer Cooperation and Transformative Governance Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program

Program and Project Officer Advancing Systems Analysis Program


2011 - 2015

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313