Modelling the Holocene migrational dynamics of Fagus sylvatica L. and Picea abies (L.) H. Karst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim Vegetation dynamics and the competitive interactions involved are assumed to restrict the ability of species to migrate. But in most migration modelling approaches disturbance-driven succession and competition processes are reduced to simple assumptions or are even missing. The aim of this study was to test a combination of a migration model and a dynamic vegetation model to estimate the migration of tree species controlled by climate, environment and local species dynamics such as succession and competition. Location Europe. Methods To estimate the effect of vegetation dynamics on the migration of European beech and Norway spruce, we developed a post-process migration tool (LPJ-CATS). This tool integrates outputs of the migration model CATS and the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS. The model LPJ-CATS relies on a linear dependency between the dispersal kernel and migration rate and is based on the assumption that competition reduces fecundity. Results Simulating potential migration rates with the CATS model, which does not account for competition and disturbance, resulted in mean Holocene migration rates of 435 +/- 55 and 330 +/- 95 m year(-1) for the two species Picea abies and Fagus sylvatica, respectively. With LPJ-CATS, these mean migration rates were reduced to 250 +/- 75 and 170 +/- 60 m year(-1) for spruce and beech, respectively. Moreover, LPJ-CATS simulated migration pathways of these two species that generally comply well with those documented in the palaeo-records. Main conclusions Our 'hybrid' modelling approach allowed for the simulation of generally realistic Holocene migration rates and pathways of the two study species on a continental scale. It suggests that competition can considerably modify spread rates, but also the magnitude of its effect depends on how close climate conditions are to the niche requirements of a particular species.


  • Dörte Lehsten
  • Stefan Dullinger
  • Karl Huelber
  • Guy Schurgers
  • Rachid Cheddadi
  • Henri Laborde
  • Veiko Lehsten
  • Louis Francois
  • Marie Dury
  • Martin Sykes
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography


  • Holocene migration, Fagus sylvatica, Picea abies, LPJ-CATS, competition, Climate change, DGVM, Holocene
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-668
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch