Implementing plant hydraulic architecture within the LPJ Dynamic Global Vegetation Model

Thomas Hickler*, I. Colin Prentice, Benjamin Smith, Martin T. Sykes, Sönke Zaehle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To implement plant hydraulic architecture within the Lund-Potsdam-Jena Dynamic Global Vegetation Model (LPJ-DGVM), and to test the model against a set of observational data. If the model can reproduce major patterns in vegetation and ecosystem processes, we consider this to be an important linkage between plant physiology and larger-scale ecosystem dynamics. Location: The location is global, geographically distributed. Methods: A literature review was carried out to derive model formulations and parameter values for representing the hydraulic characteristics of major global plant functional types (PFTs) in a DGVM. After implementing the corresponding formulations within the LPJ-DGVM, present-day model output was compared to observational data. Results: The model reproduced observed broad-scale patterns in potential natural vegetation, but it failed to distinguish accurately between different types of grassland and savanna vegetation, possibly related to inadequate model representations of water fluxes in the soil and wildfire effects. Compared to a version of the model using an empirical formulation for calculating plant water supply without considering plant hydraulic architecture, the new formulation improved simulated patterns of vegetation in particular for dry shrublands. Global-scale simulation results for runoff and actual evapotranspiration (AET) corresponded well to available data. The model also successfully reproduced the magnitude and seasonal cycle of AET for most EUROFLUX forests, while modelled variation in NPP across a large number of sites spanning several biomes showed a strong correlation with estimates from field measurements. Main conclusions: The model was generally confirmed by comparison to observational data. The novel model representation of water flow within plants makes it possible to resolve mechanistically the effects of hydraulic differences between plant functional groups on vegetation structure, water cycling, and competition. This may be an advantage when predicting ecosystem responses to nonextant climates, in particular in areas dominated by dry shrubland vegetation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomes
  • Carbon cycle
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Global vegetation distribution
  • LPJ Dynamic Global Vegetation Model
  • NPP
  • Plant hydraulic architecture
  • Terrestrial ecosystem water balance

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