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.

Engaging stakeholders in the development of simulation models to inform resource management

This journal article by Brian Miller and others, published in the journal Ecosphere, demonstrates how a scenario planning process can be combined with a state-and-transition simulation model of vegetation dynamics to inform land management decisions for rangelands in the face of climate change. The study highlights the benefits and challenges of engaging stakeholders in the development of simulation models to support decision making.  The authors also identify some key tradeoffs between grazer density and vegetation composition, as well as between the short‐ and long‐term costs of invasive species management.

ST-Sim course + workshop on modeling land use change and carbon: June 12-14

Course & Workshop

Sponsored by

California Air Resources Board

U.S. Geological Survey

Apex Resource Management Solutions

This unique event begins with a two-day online course on the fundamentals of developing state-and-transition simulation models of landscape change, followed by an optional one-day workshop on how this approach has been used to integrate projections of land-use/land-cover change and terrestrial carbon dynamics across the state of California.

State-and-transition simulation modeling online course: June 12-13, 2018

This two-day 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. The course will be delivered interactively online with an option to follow the course in a group setting at the California Air Resources headquarters in Sacramento, California.

California land use and terrestrial carbon modeling workshop: June 14, 2018

This workshop focuses on how the U.S. Geological Survey has used the ST-Sim software to develop and apply the Land Use and Carbon Scenario Simulator (LUCAS) in California. The California Air Resources Board will host this workshop at their headquarters in Sacramento, California, with live-streaming available for those who are unable to attend in-person.

For additional details please visit: www.apexrms.com/training

Approach for simulating continuous state variables in ST-Sim published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution

In December 2017, Colin Daniel and others published a study in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution describing a new approach for integrating continuous stocks and flows into a state-and-transition simulation model (STSM). This is the method behind the Stock-Flow Add-On to the ST-Sim software, which allows users to extend their models developed in ST-Sim to include interactions between continuous state variables and STSMs. For example, a model in ST-Sim can now track forest carbon in any number of continuous carbon pools (i.e., live biomass, deadwood and soil), with fluxes between these carbon pools triggered by wildfire transitions in the STSM.  The paper illustrates the approach by extending the original Hawaii STSM case study in Daniel et al. 2016 to integrated a spatially-explicit carbon budget model with a STSM of land use/land cover change.

New paper using ST-Sim to project future scenarios of land change for the state of California

Benjamin Sleeter and others at the U.S. Geological Survey and the State of California have recently completed a study published in Earths Future. This research demonstrates a new approach for projecting changes in Land Use and Land Cover Change (LULC) based on land use histories and demographic trends. This study suggests that estimates based on demographic trends alone will likely under represent the impacts of future LULC transitions when compared to a scenario representing business as usual projections. Simulations conducted as part of this study project that the greatest impacts of LULC change in California will occur in rangeland ecosystems.

Major new versions of SyncroSim and ST-Sim, including R package and Lite version, available for free download

SyncroSim Version 2, including the new rsyncrosim package for R, is now available for free download. This new version of SyncroSim represents a major milestone in the development of our scenario-based, stochastic modeling toolkit. With the release of Version 2, it is now possible to develop of any number of plug-in “modules” for SyncroSim – such as our flagship ST-Sim module for developing state-and-transition simulation models of landscape change – each representing one or more interconnected processes in a modeling project. Key new features of the SyncroSim software framework include: (1) the ability to connect multiple simulation models; (2) to script a modeling workflow from start to finish in programming languages such as R and Python; (3) to publish models for use by a non-technical audience using the new SyncroSim Lite user interface.

ST-Sim Training & User Group Meeting, November 28-30, 2017

Early registration is now open for the ST-Sim Training & User Group Meeting.

This meeting brings together current and future users of ST-Sim in order to learn more about the software and to share experiences regarding its application to a wide range of questions. The event begins with two days of training – including both introductory and advanced streams – followed by a third day of case study presentations by scientists demonstrating the latest ST-Sim tools and techniques. To close the event there will be a panel discussion regarding possible future directions for ST-Sim.

Audience: Scientists, managers and analysts from any and all land management agencies, including experienced, new and undecided users

Sponsor: The U.S. Geological Survey’s Invasive Species Science Branch

Location: Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, Colorado

Register, or find out more at www.syncrosim.com.