Mathematical modeling of forest ecosystems by a reaction-diffusion-advection system: impacts of climate change and deforestation

J Math Biol. 2021 Dec 3;83(6-7):66. doi: 10.1007/s00285-021-01696-x.


We present an innovative mathematical model for studying the dynamics of forest ecosystems. Our model is determined by an age-structured reaction-diffusion-advection system in which the roles of the water resource and of the atmospheric activity are considered. The model is abstract but constructed in such a manner that it can be applied to real-world forest areas; thus it allows to establish an infinite number of scenarios for testing the robustness and resilience of forest ecosystems to anthropic actions or to climate change. We establish the well-posedness of the reaction-diffusion-advection model by using the method of characteristics and by reducing the initial system to a reaction-diffusion problem. The existence and stability of stationary homogeneous and stationary heterogeneous solutions are investigated, so as to prove that the model is able to reproduce relevant equilibrium states of the forest ecosystem. We show that the model fits with the principle of almost uniform precipitation over forested areas and of exponential decrease of precipitation over deforested areas. Furthermore, we present a selection of numerical simulations for an abstract forest ecosystem, in order to analyze the stability of the steady states, to investigate the impact of anthropic perturbations such as deforestation and to explore the effects of climate change on the dynamics of the forest ecosystem.

Keywords: Climate change; Forest model; Reaction–diffusion–advection; Stability analysis; Water resource.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem*
  • Forests
  • Models, Theoretical