Plant responses to global changes in carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen, and water availability are critical to future atmospheric CO2 concentrations, hydrology, and hence climate. Our understanding of those responses is incomplete, however. Multiple-resource manipulation experiments and empirical observations have revealed a diversity of responses, as well as some consistent patterns. But vegetation models—currently dominated by complex numerical simulation models—have yet to achieve a consensus among their predicted responses, let alone offer a coherent explanation of the observed ones. Here we propose an alternative approach based on relatively simple optimization models (OMs). We highlight the results of three recent forest OMs, which together explain a remarkable range of observed forest responses to altered resource availability. We conclude that OMs now offer a simple yet powerful approach to predicting the responses of forests—and, potentially, other plant types—to global change. We recommend ways in which OMs could be developed further in this direction.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.