Using spatially explicit, mechanistic vegetation models to study ecosystem stability, extreme events and invasion

Dr Wilfried Thuiller1

1Cnrs – Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble Cedex 9, France

The development of spatial explicit and mechanistic models of vegetation allows to go a step beyond simple correlation analyses in our understanding of the processes by which biodiversity respond to climate and land use changes. Here, in few successive analyses, we developed and used our FATE-HD model to (1) first develop a novel framework to measure ecosystem stability in the Ecrins National Park in function of the interplay between climate and land use change and extreme events (droughts) and (2) simulate novel invasions in the Ecrins National Park. We showed a slow upward shift in forest cover, which appears to be severely impacted by pasture management (i.e. maintenance or abandonment). However, our results also showed that intense and frequent droughts counteracted the forest expansion at higher elevations driven by land-use abandonment and climate change. In respect to invasion dynamics, we showed that propagule pressure and climate change will interact to increase overall species richness of both naturalized aliens and new ornamentals, as well as their upper elevational limits and regional range-sizes.


I am senior research scientist at CNRS and Univ. Grenoble Alpes, based in Grenoble. I am trained as both an ecologist and a biostatistician. I have several research areas including investigating the impacts of global change on biodiversity (species, functional and phylogenetic), measuring the influence of environment and habitat quality on intra-specific plant functional traits, understanding what makes a good invader and how to predict its potential distribution and finally how and why species co-exist together. I am now also deeply interested into spatial network analyses, namely how do ecological networks vary in space and time and why, and how do they influence ecosystem functioning.

Species on the Move

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The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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