Modeling plant-water interactions: an ecohydrological overview from the cell to the global scale

TitleModeling plant-water interactions: an ecohydrological overview from the cell to the global scale
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsFatichi S, Pappas C, Ivanov VY
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water
Paginationn/a - n/a
Date Published11/2015

Vegetation and the water cycles are inherently coupled across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Water availability interacts with plant ecophysiology and controls vegetation functioning. Concurrently, vegetation has direct and indirect effects on energy, water, carbon, and nutrient cycles. To better understand and model plant–water interactions, highly interdisciplinary approaches are required. We present an overview of the main processes and relevant interactions between water and plants across a range of spatial scales, from the cell level of leaves, where stomatal controls occur, to drought stress at the level of a single tree, to the integrating scales of a watershed, region, and the globe. A review of process representations in models at different scales is presented. More specifically, three main model families are identified: (1) models of plant hydraulics that mechanistically simulate stomatal controls and/or water transport at the tree level; (2) ecohydrological models that simulate plot- to catchmentscale water, energy, and carbon fluxes; and (3) terrestrial biosphere models that simulate carbon, water, and nutrient dynamics at the regional and global scales and address feedback between Earth’s vegetation and the climate system. We identify special features and similarities across the model families. Examples of where plant–water interactions are especially important and have led to key scientific findings are also highlighted. Finally, we discuss the various data sources that are currently available to force and validate existing models, and we present perspectives on the evolution of the field.