A global biome model based on plant physiology and dominance, soil properties and climate

I. C. Prentice, W. Cramer, S. P. Harrison, R. Leemans, R. A. Monserud, A. M. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1663 Citations (Scopus)


A model to predict global patterns in vegetation physiognomy was developed from physiological considerations influencing the distributions of different functional types of plant. Primary driving variables are mean coldest-month temperature, annual accumulated temperature over 5°C, and a drought index incorporating the seasonality of precipitation and the available water capacity of the soil. The model predicts which plant types can occur in a given environment, and selects the potentially dominant types from among them. Biomes arise as combinations of dominant types. Global environmental data were supplied as monthly means of temperature, precipitation and sunshine and soil texture class. The resulting predictions of global vegetation patterns were in good agreement with the mapped distribution of actual ecosystem complexes, except where intensive agriculture has obliterated the natural patterns. The model will help in assessing impacts of future climate changes on potential natural vegetation patterns, land-surface characteristics and terrestrial carbon storage, and in analysis of the effects of past climate change on these variables. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-134
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


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