Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Model description paper
01 Apr 2016
Model description paper |  | 01 Apr 2016

Implementation of a Marauding Insect Module (MIM, version 1.0) in the Integrated BIosphere Simulator (IBIS, version 2.6b4) dynamic vegetation–land surface model

Jean-Sébastien Landry, David T. Price, Navin Ramankutty, Lael Parrott, and H. Damon Matthews

Abstract. Insects defoliate and kill plants in many ecosystems worldwide. The consequences of these natural processes on terrestrial ecology and nutrient cycling are well established, and their potential climatic effects resulting from modified land–atmosphere exchanges of carbon, energy, and water are increasingly being recognized. We developed a Marauding Insect Module (MIM) to quantify, in the Integrated BIosphere Simulator (IBIS), the consequences of insect activity on biogeochemical and biogeophysical fluxes, also accounting for the effects of altered vegetation dynamics. MIM can simulate damage from three different insect functional types: (1) defoliators on broadleaf deciduous trees, (2) defoliators on needleleaf evergreen trees, and (3) bark beetles on needleleaf evergreen trees, with the resulting impacts being estimated by IBIS based on the new, insect-modified state of the vegetation. MIM further accounts for the physical presence and gradual fall of insect-killed dead standing trees. The design of MIM should facilitate the addition of other insect types besides the ones already included and could guide the development of similar modules for other process-based vegetation models. After describing IBIS–MIM, we illustrate the usefulness of the model by presenting results spanning daily to centennial timescales for vegetation dynamics and cycling of carbon, energy, and water in a simplified setting and for bark beetles only. More precisely, we simulated 100 % mortality events from the mountain pine beetle for three locations in western Canada. We then show that these simulated impacts agree with many previous studies based on field measurements, satellite data, or modelling. MIM and similar tools should therefore be of great value in assessing the wide array of impacts resulting from insect-induced plant damage in the Earth system.

Short summary
Insect-induced plant damage affects the land-atmosphere exchanges of carbon, energy, and water. We developed a module to quantify such effects in process-based models suitable for climate studies. The module can simulate damage from broadleaf defoliators, needleleaf defoliators, and bark beetles. When coupled to an existing terrestrial vegetation model, the module produced reasonable results for vegetation dynamics and land-atmosphere exchanges, from daily to centennial timescales.