Postglacial Transient Dynamics of Olympic Peninsula Forests: Comparing Predictions and Observations
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Interpreting particular climatic drivers of local and regional vegetation change from paleoecological records is complex. I explicitly simulated vegetation change from the late-Glacial period to the present on the Olympic Peninsula, WA and made formal comparisons to pollen records. A temporally continuous paleoclimate scenario drove the process-based vegetation model, LPJ-GUESS. Nine tree species and a grass type were parameterized, with special attention to species requirements for establishment as limited by snowpack. Simulations produced realistic present-day species composition in five forest zones and captured late-Glacial to late Holocene transitions in forest communities. Early Holocene fire-adapted communities were not simulated well by LPJ-GUESS. Scenarios with varying amounts of snow relative to rain showed the influence of snowpack on key bioclimatic variables and on species composition at a subalpine location. This study affirms the importance of exploring climate change with methods that consider species interactions, transient dynamics, and functional components of the climate.