Hierarchical Conceptual Model of the Alpine Geosystem
Norman R. French
A conceptual model of the alpine geosystem is presented. The model is based upon system-level interactions identified in the Front Range, Colorado, and is represented as four distinct hierarchical levels or subsystems, each of which interacts with two additional subsystems: Climate and Hydrology-Geochemistry. Subsystem models are structured upon major processes that determine subsystem function. Components (compartments) are then added to account for process linkages. The four hierarchical levels represent different spatial and temporal scales. The Geomorphology-Paleoecology subsystem encompasses an area the size of a water-shed and a time scale of 10,000 yr, and is structured on processes that result in mass wasting or clastic movement. The Soil-Vegetation Community Development subsystem functions in an area of one or more hectares and a time period up to 1000 yr. It is structured on processes and site characteristics which determine the soil-vegetation complex of the locality. The Biotic Production-Phenology-Decomposition subsystem involves seasonal time scale and area occupied by a population and is structured on group processes. The Physiological-Behavioral subsystem functions on the diurnal time scale of the individual organism and is structured on individual processes that affect physiological condition and energy balance.
Citation Note: This article was published when our journal had an earlier shorter name: "Arctic and Alpine Research."