Biogeochemical Models

  • Christopher S. Cronan
Part of the Springer Textbooks in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment book series (STEGE)


Although some natural systems are relatively simple, many others are complex and contain intricate relationships and feedbacks. Whatever the level of complexity, it can be very useful to have a framework or a model for integrating current understanding about a particular system of interest. A model can be defined as a qualitative conceptual or quantitative numerical representation of a process, pattern, or system. Biogeochemical models range in scale and complexity from rudimentary exponential decay equations describing the loss of leaf mass in decomposing litter to large integrated ecosystem models capable of simulating the dynamic patterns of energy flow, nutrient cycling, and hydrologic routing in a watershed. This chapter examines how biogeochemical models provide valuable tools for integrating knowledge and synthesizing new insights regarding element cycling patterns and processes.


  1. Aber JD, Federer CA (1992) A generalized lumped-parameter model of photosynthesis, evapotranspiration, and net primary production in temperate and boreal forest ecosystems. Oecologia 92:463–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aber JD, Nadelhoffer KJ, Steudler P, Melillo JM (1989) Nitrogen saturation in northern forest ecosystems. Bioscience 39:378–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beckers J, Alila Y (2004) A model of rapid preferential hillslope runoff contributions to peak flow generation in a temperate rain forest watershed. Water Resour Res 40:W03501. doi: 10.1029/2003WR002582 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beven KJ, Kirby MJ (1979) A physically-based variable contributing area model of basin hydrology. Hydrol Sci Bull 24:43–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Box E (1978) Geographical dimensions of terrestrial net and gross primary production. Radiat Environ Biophys 15:305–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boyer EW, Alexander RB, Parton WJ, Li C, Butterbach-bahl K, Donner SD, Skaggs W, DelGrosso SJ (2006) Modeling denitrification in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems at regional scales. Ecol Appl 16:2123–2142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cess RD et al, 29 co-authors (1993) Uncertainties in carbon dioxide radiative forcing in atmospheric general circulation models. Science 262: 1252–1255Google Scholar
  8. Cosby BJ, Hornberger GM, Galloway JN, Wright RF (1985) Modeling the effects of acid deposition: assessment of a lumped parameter model of soil water and streamwater chemistry. Water Resour Res 21:51–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cosby BJ, Ferrier RC, Jenkins A, Wright RF (2001) Modelling the effects of acid deposition: refinements, adjustments, and inclusion of nitrogen dynamics in the MAGIC model. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 5:499–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ershadi A, McCabe MF, Evans JP, Wood EF (2015) Impact of model structure and parameterization on penman-Monteith type evaporation models. J Hydrol 525:521–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Federer CA, Lash D (1978) BROOK: a hydrologic simulation model for eastern forests. Water Resources Research Center, University of New Hampshire, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  12. Gbondo-Tugbawa SS, Driscoll CT, Aber JD, Likens GE (2001) Evaluation of an integrated biogeochemical model (PnET-BGC) at a northern hardwood forest ecosystem. Water Resour Res 37:1057–1070CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gbondo-Tugbawa SS, Driscoll CT, Mitchell MJ, Aber JD, Likens GE (2002) A model to simulate the response of a northern hardwood forest ecosystem to changes in S deposition. Ecol Appl 12:8–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gherini SA, Mok L, Hudson RJM, Davis GF, Chen CW, Goldstein RA (1985) The ILWAS model: formulation and applications. Water Air Soil Pollut 26:425–459Google Scholar
  15. Huff DD, Luxmore RJ, Mankin JB, Begovich CL (1977) TEHM: a terrestrial ecosystem hydrology model. ORNL/NSF/EATC-27. National Laboratory, Oak RidgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Karama SL, Weisberg PJ, Scheller RM, Johnson DW, Miller WW (2013) Development and evaluation of a nutrient cycling extension for the LANDIS-II landscape simulation model. Ecol Model 250:45–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levin SA (1999) Fragile dominion – complexity and the commons. Perseus Publications, Cambridge, 250 pGoogle Scholar
  18. Luxmore RJ (1989) Modeling chemical transport, uptake, and effects in the soil-plant-litter system. In: Johnson DW, Van Hook RI (eds) Analysis of biogeochemical cycling processes in Walker Branch Watershed. Springer, New York, pp 351–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Luxmore RJ, Huff DD, McConathy RK, Dinger BE (1978) Some measured and simulated plant water relations of yellow-poplar. For Sci 24:327–341Google Scholar
  20. McCormack LM, Crisfield E, Raczka B, Schnekenburger F, Eissenstat DM, Smithwick EAH (2015) Sensitivity of four ecological models to adjustments in fine root turnover rate. Ecol Model 297:107–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Montieth JL (1965) Evaporation and environment. In: Proceedings of 19th symposium society for experimental biology, Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 205–233Google Scholar
  22. Munson RK, Gherini SA (1991) Processes influencing the acid-base chemistry of surface waters. In: Charles DF (ed) Acidic deposition and aquatic ecosystems. Springer, New York, pp 9–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nippgen F, McGlynn BL, Emanuel RE (2015) The spatial and temporal evolution of contributing areas. Water Resour Res 51:4550–4573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Parton WJ, Schimel DS, Cole CV, Ojima DS (1987) Analysis of factors controlling soil organic matter levels in grasslands. Soil Sci Soc Am J 51:1173–1179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Raich JW, Rastetter EB, Melillo JM, Kicklighter DW, Steudler PA, Peterson BJ, Grace AL, Moore B, Vorosmarty CJ (1991) Potential net primary productivity in South America: application of a global model. Ecol Appl 1:399–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Retzlaff WA, Weinstein DA, Laurence JA, Gollands B (1996) Simulated root dynamics of a 160-year-old sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh) tree with and without ozone exposure using the TREGRO model. Tree Physiol 16:915–921CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Running SW, Coughlan JC (1988) A general model of forest ecosystem processes for regional applications. I. Hydrologic balance, canopy gas exchange and primary production processes. Ecol Model 42:125–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Running SW, Gower ST (1991) FOREST-BGC. A general model of forest ecosystem processes for regional applications. II. Dynamic carbon allocation and nitrogen budgets. Tree Physiol 9:147–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Running SW, Nemani RR, Peterson DL, Band LE, Potts DF, Pierce LL, Spanner MA (1989) Mapping regional forest evapotranspiration and photosynthesis by coupling satellite data with ecosystem simulation. Ecology 70:1090–1101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sheldon JF (2003) Sensitivity analysis of a nitrogen cycling model for a northern hardwood forest. Unpublished honors thesis, University of Maine. Honors advisor: C.S. CronanGoogle Scholar
  31. Soulsby C, Birkel C, Geris J, Dick J, Tunaley C, Tetzlaff D (2015) Stream water age distributions controlled by storage dynamics and nonlinear hydrologic connectivity: modeling with high-resolution isotope data. Water Resour Res 51:7759–7776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Thorn AM, Xiao J, Ollinger SV (2015) Generalization and evaluation of the process-based forest ecosystem model PnET-CN for other biomes. Ecosphere 6(3):1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tipping E, Rowe EC, Evans CD, Mills RTE, Emmett BA, Chaplow JS, Hall JR (2012) N14C: a plant–soil nitrogen and carbon cycling model to simulate terrestrial ecosystem responses to atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Ecol Model 247:11–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tonitto C, Goodale CL, Weiss MS, Frey SD, Ollinger SV (2014) The effect of nitrogen addition on soil organic matter dynamics: a model analysis of the Harvard Forest Chronic Nitrogen Amendment Study and soil carbon response to anthropogenic N deposition. Biogeochemistry 117:431–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Verburg PSJ, Johnson DW (2001) A spreadsheet-based biogeochemical model to simulate nutrient cycling processes in forest ecosystems. Ecol Model 141:185–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang F, Mladenoff DJ, Forrester JA, Blanco JA, Scheller RM, Peckham SD, Keough C, Lucash MS, Gower ST (2014) Multimodel simulations of forest harvesting effects on long-term productivity and CN cycling in aspen forests. Ecol Appl 24(6):1374–1389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Weinstein DA, Beloin RM, Yanai RD (1991) Modeling changes in red spruce carbon balance and allocation in response to interacting ozone and nutrient stresses. Tree Physiol 9:127–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Whitehead D, Hinckley TM (1991) Models of water flux through forest stands: critical leaf and stand parameters. Tree Physiol 9:35–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wolock DM (1993) Simulating the variable source area concept of streamflow generation with the watershed model TOPMODEL. U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report, Earth Science Information Center, DenverGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher S. Cronan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biology and EcologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA

Personalised recommendations