Estimating uncertainty in ecosystem budget calculations
Yanai, Ruth D.
Battles, John J.
Richardson, Andrew D.
Blodgett, Corrie A.
Wood, Dustin M.
Rastetter, Edward B.
MetadataShow full item record
KeywordMonte Carlo; Hubbard Brook; Forest biomass; Allometric equations; Error analysis; Ecosystem N budget
Ecosystem nutrient budgets often report values for pools and fluxes without any indication of uncertainty, which makes it difficult to evaluate the significance of findings or make comparisons across systems. We present an example, implemented in Excel, of a Monte Carlo approach to estimating error in calculating the N content of vegetation at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire. The total N content of trees was estimated at 847 kg ha−1 with an uncertainty of 8%, expressed as the standard deviation divided by the mean (the coefficient of variation). The individual sources of uncertainty were as follows: uncertainty in allometric equations (5%), uncertainty in tissue N concentrations (3%), uncertainty due to plot variability (6%, based on a sample of 15 plots of 0.05 ha), and uncertainty due to tree diameter measurement error (0.02%). In addition to allowing estimation of uncertainty in budget estimates, this approach can be used to assess which measurements should be improved to reduce uncertainty in the calculated values. This exercise was possible because the uncertainty in the parameters and equations that we used was made available by previous researchers. It is important to provide the error statistics with regression results if they are to be used in later calculations; archiving the data makes resampling analyses possible for future researchers. When conducted using a Monte Carlo framework, the analysis of uncertainty in complex calculations does not have to be difficult and should be standard practice when constructing ecosystem budgets.
© The Authors, 2010. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License. The definitive version was published in Ecosystems 13 (2010): 239-248, doi:10.1007/s10021-010-9315-8.
Suggested CitationArticle: Yanai, Ruth D., Battles, John J., Richardson, Andrew D., Blodgett, Corrie A., Wood, Dustin M., Rastetter, Edward B., "Estimating uncertainty in ecosystem budget calculations", Ecosystems 13 (2010): 239-248, DOI:10.1007/s10021-010-9315-8, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/3234
The following license files are associated with this item:
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Quantifying the effects of commercial clam aquaculture on C and N cycling : an integrated ecosystem approach Murphy, Anna E.; Emery, Kyle A.; Anderson, Iris C.; Pace, Michael L.; Brush, Mark J.; Rheuban, Jennie E. (2016-05)Increased interest in using bivalve cultivation to mitigate eutrophication requires a comprehensive understanding of the net carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) budgets associated with cultivation on an ecosystem scale. This ...
Steele, John H.; Collie, Jeremy S.; Bisagni, James J.; Gifford, Dian J.; Fogarty, Michael J.; Link, Jason S.; Sullivan, B. K.; Sieracki, Michael E.; Beet, Andrew R.; Mountain, David G.; Durbin, Edward G.; Palka, D.; Stockhausen, W. T. (2007-05-09)Oceanographic regimes on the continental shelf display a great range in the time scales of physical exchange, biochemical processes and trophic transfers. The close surface-to-seabed physical coupling at intermediate scales ...
Importance of soil thermal regime in terrestrial ecosystem carbon dynamics in the circumpolar north Jiang, Yueyang; Zhuang, Qianlai; Sitch, Stephen; O'Donnell, Jonathan A.; Kicklighter, David W.; Sokolov, Andrei P.; Melillo, Jerry M. (2016-04-19)In the circumpolar north (45-90°N), permafrost plays an important role in vegetation and carbon (C) dynamics. Permafrost thawing has been accelerated by the warming climate and exerts a positive feedback to climate through ...