Since we are building a simple ecosystem model, we are lumping all tree species into one compartment, all understory plants into one component, etc. However, depending on the intended purpose of a model, you may need to split these components even further. For example, in most forests there are different layers distinguished by tree height. These layers are known as the canopy, sub-canopy, saplings, and seedlings. These features, called the forest structure can vary greatly from forest to forests… read more. Depending on the goals or intended use of your model, each layer in the forest could be a distinct component of the ecosystem model.
The specific species of trees present could be separate components of an even more complex forest ecosystem model. If a forest can be defined as an ecosystem dominated by trees, then hardwood forests can be defined as forests dominated by broad-leaved, deciduous trees. Species like Sugar Maple, Oaks, Basswood or Beech dominate rather than the needle-leafed, conifer tree species like White and Red Pine, Spruce, and Balsam Fir. Various hardwood forests as well as mixed hardwood-conifer forests are common across the Great Lakes region, unlike the Pacific Northwest and the drier mountain and desert regions to the west and southwest where conifer dominated forests are more common.