Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (5.5 MB)

Title: On the spatial heterogeneity of net ecosystem productivity in complex landscapes

Author: Emanuel, Ryan E.; Riveros-Iregui, Diego A.; McGlynn, Brian L.; Epstein, Howard E.;

Date: 2011

Source: Ecosphere. 2(7): Article 86.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Micrometeorological flux towers provide spatially integrated estimates of net ecosystem production (NEP) of carbon over areas ranging from several hectares to several square kilometers, but they do so at the expense of spatially explicit information within the footprint of the tower. This finer-scale information is crucial for understanding how physical and biological factors interact and give rise to tower-measured fluxes in complex landscapes. We present a simple approach for quantifying and evaluating the spatial heterogeneity of cumulative growing season NEP for complex landscapes. Our method is based on spatially distributed information about physical and biological landscape variables and knowledge of functional relationships between constituent fluxes and these variables. We present a case study from a complex landscape in the Rocky Mountains of Montana (US) to demonstrate that the spatial distribution of cumulative growing season NEP is rather large and bears the imprint of the topographic and vegetation variables that characterize this complex landscape. Net carbon sources and net carbon sinks were distributed across the landscape in manner predictable by the intersection of these landscape variables. We simulated year-to-year climate variability and found that some portions of the landscape were consistently either carbon sinks or carbon sources, but other portions transitioned between sink and source. Our findings reveal that this emergent behavior is a unique characteristic of complex landscapes derived from the interaction of topography and vegetation. These findings offer new insight for interpreting spatially integrated carbon fluxes measured over complex landscapes.

Keywords: carbon cycle, flux tower, Lidar, photosynthesis, respiration

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Emanuel, Ryan E.; Riveros-Iregui, Diego A.; McGlynn, Brian L.; Epstein, Howard E. 2011. On the spatial heterogeneity of net ecosystem productivity in complex landscapes. Ecosphere. 2(7): Article 86.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.