Landscape simulation models are a valuable tool for projecting long-term forest succession and ecosystem dynamics. The models process information from individual site measurements (i.e., plot level) to represent the conditions and processes in a larger area (e.g., forest level). In this study, we implemented the model Landscape Disturbance and Succession II (LANDIS-II). Our study area is the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway, an 11,000 ha area in southwest Georgia. We investigated forest composition across three sites encompassing the range of soil moisture conditions of longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystems.
The three sites varied in the composition and distribution of tree species. The species composition of the mesic site predominantly consisted of longleaf pine whereas the xeric and intermediate sites had greater heterogeneity with longleaf pine and oak species. This study can help us understand how species composition in the region may change in relation to different environmental changes. For instance, mesic areas may be more likely to be converted to agriculture and result in losses of primarily longleaf pine trees and xeric areas may be more vulnerable to climate change and will impact longleaf pine and oak species. This study also informs us of the ability to use limited plot-level data to represent sites of varying levels of heterogeneity in a forest simulation model.