Tree mortality modeling

Until now, the process descriptions in many dynamic vegetation models (DVMs), in particular the representation of tree survival, lack empirical justification. Since tree death can be described quite precisely as ‘stochastic, rare and irregular’, its investigation is hampered by limited data and high variability. Tree mortality thus remains one of the least understood processes in the simulation of stand dynamics. This is particularly problematic since projections of future forest dynamics are highly sensitive to mortality formulations. Consequently, improved concepts for the modeling of tree mortality are urgently needed.

We are interested in how the representation of tree mortality in DVMs can be improved by using growth-based predictors and by strengthening the connection of data and simulations. To this end, we use direct and inverse parameterizations of mortality models, particularly in the forest gap model ForClim.



  • Cailleret, M., Bircher, N., Hartig, F., Hülsmann, L. & Bugmann, H. 2020. Bayesian calibration of a growth-dependent tree mortality model to simulate the dynamics of European temperate forests. Ecological Applications. 30, e02021. [journal]
  • Thrippleton, T., Hülsmann, L., Cailleret, M. & Bugmann, H. 2019. Projecting Forest Dynamics Across Europe: Potentials and Pitfalls of Empirical Mortality Algorithms. Ecosystems. [journal]
  • Bugmann, H., Seidl, R., Hartig, F., … Hülsmann, L., … Reyer, C.P.O. 2019. Tree mortality submodels drive simulated long-term forest dynamics: assessing 15 models from the stand to global scale. Ecosphere. 10, e02616. [journal]
  • Vanoni, M., Cailleret, M., Hülsmann, L., Bugmann, H. & Bigler, C. 2019. How do tree mortality models from combined tree-ring and inventory data affect projections of forest succession? Forest Ecology and Management. 433, 606-617. [journal]
  • Hülsmann, L., Bugmann, H., Cailleret, M. & Brang, P. (2018). How to kill a tree: Empirical mortality models for eighteen species and their performance in a dynamic forest model. Ecological Applications. 28, 522-540. [journal]
  • Hülsmann, L., Bugmann, H., Meyer, P. & Brang, P. (2018). Natürliche Baummortalität in Mitteleuropa: Mortalitätsraten und -muster im Vergleich. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Forstwesen. 169, 166-174. [journal]
  • Hülsmann, L., Bugmann, H. & Brang, P. (2017). How to predict tree death from inventory data – lessons from a systematic assessment of European tree mortality models. Canadian Journal of Forerst Research, 47, 890-900. [journal]
  • Hülsmann, L. (2016). Tree mortality in Central Europe: Empirically-based modeling using long-term datasets. ETH Zürich, PhD Thesis. p. 219. [ethz]
  • Hülsmann, L., Bugmann, H., Commarmot, B., Meyer, P., Zimmermann, S. & Brang, P. (2016). Does one model fit all? Patterns of beech mortality in natural forests of three European regions. Ecological Applications, 26, 2463-2477. [journal]