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Q. What is potential vegetation (PV) and what time periods do the potential vegetation layers represent?
PV is the vegetation capable of existing given the biophysical characteristics of a site. PV integrates current regional climate and physical site characteristics.
LANDFIRE characterizes PV in two ways:
Environmental Site Potential (ESP) is the vegetation that would become established at late or climax stages of successional development in the absence of disturbance (pre European). ESP reflects the dates of the input data used in the mapping process (approx. 1980-2004 for field data and 1980-1997 for biophysical gradient layers developed from DAYMET data). It also includes the competitive potential of native plant species. The ESP layer informs vegetation and fuel mapping.
Biophysical Settings (BpS) is a refinement of ESP and incorporates natural ecological disturbance processes, such as fire. The biophysical settings (BpS) layer represents a composite time period that includes the "current" input data, the historical context provided by vegetation dynamics models, and assumptions about fire regimes. It forms the basis for linking ecological processes of succession to landscapes, which is used to simulate historical vegetation and disturbance characteristics.