Simulating Forest Growth over 1400 Years

The 2019 research paper describing this work is “Synthetic Silviculture: Multi-scale Modeling of Plant Ecosystems” (full text [PDF]). This is not CGI rendering of a canned model, but actual simulation of the dynamics of forest growth of up to 500,000 plants taking into account interactions between plants and competition for resources such as sunlight, water, and soil nutrients. Here is the abstract.

Due to the enormous amount of detail and the interplay of various biological phenomena, modeling realistic ecosystems of trees and other plants is a challenging and open problem. Previous research on modeling plant ecologies has focused on representations to handle this complexity, mostly through geometric simplifications, such as points or billboards. In this paper we describe a multi-scale method to design large-scale ecosystems with individual plants that are realistically modeled and faithfully capture biological features, such as growth, plant interactions, different types of tropism, and the competition for resources. Our approach is based on leveraging inter- and intra-plant self-similarities for efficiently modeling plant geometry. We focus on the interactive design of plant ecosystems of up to 500K plants, while adhering to biological priors known in forestry and botany research. The introduced parameter space supports modeling properties of nine distinct plant ecologies while each plant is represented as a 3D surface mesh. The capabilities of our framework are illustrated through numerous models of forests, individual plants, and validations.


I think a fire now and then is needed to simulate the shrubs and pines recapturing ground from the deciduous trees. :slightly_smiling_face: