In a hierarchical system without strong coupling between hierarchical levels, most detail occurring at the small scale would even out when the system is viewed from the next higher level. In this case, there would be no need to upscale an individual-based level because different factors would determine the dynamics at different hierarchical levels. However, herbivore behavior, and feedbacks between the spatial structure of the vegetation, grazing, and local water distribution affect individual plants at a smaller scale, while resulting degradation is perceived only at a larger scales. If such coupling between hierarchical levels is probable, an upscaling of small-scale models into a landscape scale is required to transport the essential information from the smaller scale to the larger scale.
In such an upscaled model, the entire plot of the original model, for example, covering a 30 m x 30 m area, may become a grid cell of the larger-scale landscape model and rules describing the spatial interactions of the landscape cells need to be defined. To model real landscapes, remote-sensing data may be used to define the environmental parameters and the vegetation of the grid cells. Since remote-sensing data are continuously collected for more than 20 years now, time-series data of plots with known climatic and management history can be used to indirectly adjust parameters and processes of the upscaled model.
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