NSERC ResNet: A network for monitoring, modeling, and managing Canada’s ecosystem services for sustainability and resilience

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has announced funding for an exciting new project led by Elena Bennett at McGill University – NSERC ResNet: A network for monitoring, modeling, and managing Canada’s ecosystem services for sustainability and resilience. ApexRMS is proud to be an industry partner and work with this talented network of scientists to help measure Canada’s progress towards its sustainability goals. Positions are open for network managers, data managers, grad students, undergrads, postdocs and other researchers. Stay up to date by following @NSERC_ResNet.

Linking climate and land in California

Links between climate change and land use are in the news around the world this week following the publication of a special report on the topic by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A recent paper published in Global Change Biology conducts an in depth scientific investigation of the interactions between climate and land use change in the state of California. The authors used ST-Sim software to build an integrated model of landscape change and carbon dynamics that estimated carbon stocks and fluxes for California’s forest, grassland, shrubland, and agricultural ecosystems. Carbon storage in California’s terrestrial ecosystems was projected to decline in nearly all of the 32 alternative future scenarios considered but there were large uncertainties associated with these projections stemming from underlying uncertainties about increasing CO2 and its effect on ecosystem carbon storage and flux.

Developing an expert elicited model to evaluate invasive species and fire management alternatives

A recent study published in the journal Ecosphere showcases the development of a landscape model that combines a state-and-transition simulation model developed in ST-Sim with a dynamically linked fire behaviour model, FARSITE.  These dynamically linked models allow land managers at Saguaro National Park to consider alternative scenarios for novel processes including invasive grasses and fire dynamics not seen before in this ecosystem. The paper is the first published example of how the SyncroSim framework can be used to dynamically link individual models, thus allowing simulations to address complex ecological and management questions.

Simulating nature based solutions to climate change

A recent report by the Nature Conservancy and Next 10 shows that nature based solutions to climate change can be a cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions and can produce many co-benefits. The authors used ST-Sim software to build an integrated model of landscape change and carbon dynamics for the state of California which allowed them to quantify emissions associated with different land use interventions in forests, farms, and rangelands. The effectiveness of these land use interventions to reduce emissions was evaluated under two different climate scenarios out to 2030, 2050, and 2100.

A novel approach for biodiversity conservation under climate change

A recent paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution proposes that traditional networks of permanent protected areas may be more effective at conserving biodiversity under climate change if they are augmented with dynamic conservation areas. The paper was the brain child of a working group funded by the Canadian Institute for Ecology and Evolution that was made up of researchers from academia, government, NGOs, and ApexRMS.

Early registration ends Feb. 19 for landscape simulation modeling course with ST-Sim

Early registration ends Tuesday, Feb 19!

This two-day online course establishes the fundamentals attendees need to use the free ST-Sim software to develop spatially-explicit, integrated models of both landscape change and carbon dynamics.

For additional details please visit:


Expanding protected areas within Canada

Opportunities to expand Canada’s protected area system are the focus of a new study published in a special issue on Biodiversity and Protected Areas in the journal Land. The study was authored by scientists at the Canadian Forest Service, McGill University, and ApexRMS. The authors argue that diversifying the management and governance types represented in Canada’s protected area system could expedite its expansion and contribute to long-term biodiversity conservation in Canada.

Online course in developing state-and-transition simulation models of landscape change using ST-Sim: March 19-20, 2019

Assessing ecological connectivity in the St. Lawrence Lowlands

Bronwyn Rayfield recently conducted a broad-scale, multi-species connectivity assessment across the entire St. Lawrence Lowlands in collaboration with Andrew Gonzalez, at McGill University. Read the full report (in French) at:


Check out the interactive tool created by our co-author Guillaume Larocque that allows you to explore how different species experience connectivity in the St. Lawrence Lowlands:


Recent paper estimates the historic ecosystem carbon balance for the continental United States

A recent study led by the US Geological Survey published in the journal Environmental Research Letters used ST-Sim to estimate the ecosystem carbon balance for the continental United States (CONUS) over the period from 1973 to 2010.  The study used remotely sensed data to estimate the effects of land use and land cover change on ecosystem carbon balance.  The study estimates that on average, ecosystems in CONUS have  been a net carbon sink (254 TG Carbon per year) but that there is much inter annual variability.  Forests are the largest carbon sink and the size of the sink due to forests has declined by 35% over the study period.  The reasons for the decline in the size of the forest carbon sink are forest ageing and a reduction in the total area of forests in CONUS.  The historic ecosystem carbon balance is more uncertain prior to 1985 when remotely sensed data sets of wildfire and other disturbances became available.  In future, the model developed in this study could be used to evaluate the effects of alternative land use policies on future ecosystem carbon balance.