Ecosystem Demography (ED) Model

The ED model is an individual-based model of vegetation dynamics with integrated submodels of plant growth, mortality, phenology, biodiversity, disturbance, hydrology, and soil biogeochemistry. Individual plants of different functional types compete mechanistically in ED under local environmental conditions for light, water, and nutrients. ED differs from most other terrestrial models by formally scaling up physiological processes through individual-based vegetation dynamics to ecosystem scales, while simultaneously modeling natural disturbances, land use,and the dynamics of recovering lands.


ED has been implemented for the Amazon, the U.S. and is now a global model. It has been used to study the effects of land-use change, fires and tropical cyclones on regional carbon balances. Because trees in ED have an explicit height, it fascilitates direct connection to structure data and has been used for high-resolution height-initialized estimates of carbon stocks and fluxes in the tropics and over complex mountainous terrain. Currently, ED is being used as part of a framework to estimate statewide high-resolution (90m) carbon stocks, fluxes and sequestration potential for Maryland. More information on this project can be found here.

In addition, we have developed a new coupled framework, the Integrated Ecosystem Demography (iED) Model, to study linked human and natural systems. iED combines the advanced ecosystem dynamics from ED with socioeconomics from the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) and land-use algorithms from the Global Land-use Model (GLM). This work aims to reduce uncertainties associated with forest modeling within integrated assessments, and to quantify the impacts of climate change on forest growth and productivity for integrated assessments of terrestrial carbon management. More information on this project can be found here. We are also using iED to study how changes in future disturbance rates will affect our ability to meet future demands for wood, fuel and fiber, and our ability to meet future climate mitigation goals. More information on this project can be found here.

Currently, the ED model is being integrated into the NASA Carbon Monitoring System baseline monitoring maps for the northeast United States. Additionally, the model is being run globally in the context of NASA GEDI and the NASA IDS project for the GSFC GEOS system.

Download ED Code

The ED code is available through the ORNL DAAC for the version used in Moorcroft et al. (2001) for the Amazon (here) and used in Hurtt et al. (2002) for the U.S. (here).

The latest version (ED v3.0), as calibrated and evaluated at a global scale by Ma et al. (2022), can be found here. More recent versions of the code will be available here soon.

Select References