Title: Modeling on the grand scale: LANDFIRE lessons learned
Author: Blankenship, Kori; Smith, Jim; Swaty, Randy; Shlisky, Ayn J.; Patton, Jeannie; Hagen, Sarah.
Source: In: Kerns, Becky K.; Shlisky, Ayn J.; Daniel, Colin J., tech. eds. Proceedings of the First Landscape State-and-Transition Simulation Modeling Conference, June 14–16, 2011, Portland, Oregon. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-869. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 43-56.
Description: Between 2004 and 2009, the LANDFIRE project facilitated the creation of approximately 1,200 unique state-andtransition models (STMs) for all major ecosystems in the United States. The primary goal of the modeling effort was to create a consistent and comprehensive set of STMs describing reference conditions and to inform the mapping of a subset of LANDFIRE’s spatial products. STMs were created by more than 700 experts through a series of modeling workshops, individual meetings and web conferences hosted around the country. While model- building speed, efficiency and consistency may have been enhanced by using a small group of project employees to develop STMs, our participatory approach to model development encouraged early engagement in the LANDFIRE project as a whole, helped to incorporate a broad spectrum of knowledge into the STMs and built modeling capacity. The depth and breadth of the LANDFIRE modeling effort provides an opportunity to learn about expert-based modeling efforts. In this paper we reflect on that effort and, based on our collective experience facilitating the development of the LANDFIRE STMs, we offer 10 lessons learned: (1) create a flexible modeling process, (2) incorporate a learn-by-doing method, but know that it takes work, (3) engage a broad spectrum of experts from the start, (4) agree on what is being modeled, (5) implement procedures to maintain quality control, (6) if possible, build from existing models, (7) thoroughly document results, (8) never forget the modeling purpose, (9) set realistic modeling goals, and (10) model to document known ecological information and identify gaps in understanding. In this paper, we discuss these lessons in detail and offer observations and examples from our experience to help others efficiently build more useful models for land management and planning efforts in the future.
Keywords: pre-settlement, vegetation ecology, vegetation dynamics, state-and-transition model, LANDFIRE, experts, VDDT, Vegetation Condition Class.
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Blankenship, Kori; Smith, Jim; Swaty, Randy; Shlisky, Ayn J.; Patton, Jeannie; Hagen, Sarah. 2012. Modeling on the grand scale: LANDFIRE lessons learned. In: Kerns, Becky K.; Shlisky, Ayn J.; Daniel, Colin J., tech. eds. Proceedings of the First Landscape State-and-Transition Simulation Modeling Conference, June 14–16, 2011, Portland, Oregon. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-869. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 43-56.
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