Published In

Landscape Ecology

Document Type


Publication Date



Forest management, Global environmental change, Ecological disturbances, Analysis of variance


Context: Exploratory modeling in forestry uses a variety of approaches to study forest management questions. One key assumption that every approach makes is about the degree of deep uncertainty—the lack of knowledge required for making an informed decision—that future forest managers will face. This assumption can strongly influence simulation results and the conclusions drawn from them, but is rarely studied.

Objectives: Our objective was to measure the degree of deep uncertainty within a forest management simulation to compare alternative modeling approaches and improve understanding of when a specific approach should be applied. Methods We first developed a method for measuring the degree of deep uncertainty assumed by approaches to modeling forest management. Next, we developed a new extension to the LANDIS-II model, the SOSIEL Harvest Extension, which simulates alternative approaches to modeling forest management. Finally, we applied the new method and extension to comparing three alternative approaches to modeling forest management in Michigan.

Results: The degrees of deep uncertainty varied substantially among the three modeling approaches. There is also an overall negative relationship between the degree of deep uncertainty an approach assumes a forest manager will face and the level of flexibility the approach assumes a manager will have in responding to forest change. Conclusions Quantifying the deep uncertainty inherent in simulated forest management and comparing it across models provides an opportunity to better understand its sources and investigate differences in the assumptions made by alternative modeling approaches.


Copyright (c) 2021 The Authors

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Version of Record: A version of this preprint was published at Landscape Ecology on August 21st, 2021. See the published version at



Persistent Identifier