Isle Royale: portage; moose; the flattened grass is a moose bed.

- Introduction
- Isle Royale
- The Demo
- The Software
- Links & Contacts
Launch online simulation (Java 1.1)
Launch simulator

Note: this has to download a quarter megabyte, then think about it. Not recommended on slow Internet connections or slow computers. Requires Java 1.1 capable web browser.


What is MooseWood?

MooseWood simulates the ecosystem of Isle Royale, Lake Superior. This is an individual-based model of trees, moose, and wolves, showing their community-level response to climate change - how the animals shape the forest response to global warming. This research project began in summer'02.

The point is that most global warming projections of vegetation assume the herbivores and carnivores can be ignored, or simply track the vegetation changes. And they may. But if they don't, a significant factor shaping vegetation communities is missing, and the resulting ecosystem is likely to have a different character.

This web page discusses the Isle Royale ecosystem which MooseWood simulates, what capabilities are already proved out in this early MooseWood Demo, the software, and links to further information.

Vegetation Map, Isle Royale

The Isle Royale Ecosystem

Isle Royale is a U.S. national park in Lake Superior, off the coast of Ontario, about 45 miles long. No motor vehicles are allowed, so it supports wilderness type recreation.

The forest is at the southern boreal/northern hardwoods border, a mixture of both forest types. Successful boreal trees include white and black spruce, white cedar, aspen, balsam fir, and jack pine, and a lot of shrubbery, such as blueberry and Canada yew and alder. Boreal forests depend on forest fires for renewal. Northern hardwood species include red maple, red oak, and yellow birch. The ground is fairly rocky, with typical glacier-scratched features.

Many moose live in Isle Royale, primarily browsing the trees, to the height they can reach. This tends to kill saplings. Moose prefer balsam fir, white spruce, and aspen trees. There is little balsam fir left. A moth pest, spruce budworm, takes an additional toll on spruce trees.

Wolves also make their home on Isle Royale. They eat the moose. When snow is especially deep in the forest, the wolves catch more moose. In milder winters, the moose do better.

The Demo

This demo is in progress, not the full-blown MooseWood we propose to implement. Features included:

  • Boreal and hardwood forest growth ("gap model", 0.1 hectare patches).
  • Random patch-level "fires".
  • Historical climate data drives forest growth.
  • Five VEMAP climate change scenarios.
  • Generate mini-climate and "what-if" variations.
  • Cartoon "Moosebot" browses trees to 2.5 meters height.

Not yet:

  • Take geography and starting tree populations from map data.
  • Automatically vary geography with mini-climates (lowland, upland, swampy, rocky, etc.)
  • Larger fires.
  • Moose with life cycle & life-like behaviors.
  • Wolves.
  • Optionally, model a second site, preferably mountainous.
The provided Scenarios are explained on the
Software Notes page (also available from the Notes button while running the simulator.)

Links & Contacts

Ginger Booth, February, 2003

Copyright 2003 Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies