Linking Remote Sensing and Process-Based Models to Assess Land Use and Climate Change Impacts on Plant Invasion in Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands

Invasive plants in coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes are degrading wetland habitat, decreasing biodiversity, and reducing ecosystem services. Our objective is to refine and integrate process-based hydrological and ecological models with remote sensing products to investigate how changes in upland land use and climate alter risk of plant invasions and ecosystem services in coastal wetlands.

Linking Ecological and Hydrological Models

Changes in upland land use and climate were simulated in order to understand the impacts of changing water and nutrient loads on coastal ecosystems.

Fig 1 and 2

Team UM: Bill Currie, Deborah Goldberg, Kenneth Elgersma, Jason Martina

MONDRIAN: Modes Of Nonlinear Dynamics in Resource Interactions and Nutrient cycling

Fig 3

Individual-based ecosystem model spanning 5 levels of organization:

  • Individual ramet growth
  • Translocation of C and N within clones
  • Population processes (fecundity, mortality)
  • Community modeling (competition for light, N)
  • Ecosystem processes (water level, biogeochemistry, closed C and N budgets)


LHM: Landscape Hydrology Model

Figures 4 & 5
  • Simulates full water and energy
  • Integrated Surface Water and Groundwater
  • Interactions between soil water and vegetation
  • Fully distributed
  • Process based
  • 4 main zones




Team MSU: Dave Hyndman, Anthony Kendall, Sherry Martin

Field and Experimental Research

Field work was conducted to understand both the hydrology and plant invasions. Remote sensing data were used for landscape scale validation of results and to parameterize models.

Monitoring invasion of problematic wetland plant species

Figs 6-9

Typha x glauca invading sedge-rush marsh in northern Michigan coastal wetlands

Controlled Experiment with 100 Mescosms at 2 Latitudes


Mapping Distribution of Wetland Invaders and Land Use

Modeled Results

Land Use and Land Cover Analysis







phrag and typha


For Additional Information


Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, Ph.D.

Project PI
Michigan Tech Research Institute
Senior Research Scientist


Other Project Team Memebers:



Research funded by NASA IDR Grant# NNX11AC72G


In collaboration with:









Integration of remote sensing, field data and modeled results show greater nitrogen loading and invasion of problematic wetland plants in southern half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula due to land use


Next Steps




Summary of Results


  1. LHM model shows greater N loading in southern half of region due to land use
  2. Coastal mapping shows greater plant invasions in southern half of region
  3. Coastal wetland model shows how large plant size gives invaders ecological advantage when N inflows are high
  4. Controlled mesocosms experiment fails to confirm invasion mechanism (2 years may not be enough)
  5. Linked models suggest intermediate C accretion (100 gC m-2 y-1) based on hydroperiod and ecosystem processes
  6. Stay tuned for the “Grand synthesis:” formal model linking and validation via remote sensing and field data