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CSR is a vegetation model based on principles of Competitors, Stress-tolerators, and Ruderals. It is a process-based simulation model on vegetation dynamics and succession. It based on plant life history strategies as defined by Competitors, Stress-tolerators, Ruderals (CSR) and intermediate strategies.


Grime's CSR-theory on plant life history strategies of the established and regeneration phases is well accepted in plant ecology. It is increasingly used as a framework to assess the effects of changing abiotic environmental drivers and land use on vegetation dynamics, ecosystem functioning, diversity and resilience. Currently the theory is too qualitative for practical application in nature management and policy.

The life history strategies are defined in terms of trade-offs between life history traits, e.g. gains and costs of resource aquisition. This makes the theory well suited for a general process-dynamic model using plant functional types based on CSR-strategies.

When the trade-offs are quantified, new species can be included in the model without extensive (and often unavailing) search for lots of parameter values. Together with the model therefore comes a database of plant functional traits and possible trade-offs between traits. This provides great generality and opportunities to apply the CSR-model in many different contexts and environments.

specification of the model

  • includes mechanistic feedbacks between the atmosphere, biosphere (vegetation and herbivores) and soil with respect the cycling of to carbon, water, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
  • The unit of simulation is the individual plant, aggregated in cohorts of identical individuals
  • cohorts are defined pergrid cell to allow operation of the model at large spatial scales.


- The CSR-model is suitable to assess impacts of both global change (temperature, precipitation, CO2 rise, nitrogen deposition) and land use change scenarios on vegetation dynamics (including colonization and invasion) and ecosystem functions, thereby providing the base for ecosystem goods and services.

A new aspect of the CSR-model is that it will be able to evaluate the importance of functional diversity in life history strategies and -traits on ecological resilience and adaptive capacity of ecosystems, and ecological memory in landscapes.


CSR is programmed in Python. No special developing envoronment is required, though we prefer the Eclipse IDE. The source code is curated in a sub-version repository (location (login required)), at present only open to the developers. Please contact Wim de Winter if you have trouble accessing the repository.

note 1: login - username=svn & password=svn_read

note 2: state - this is not yet a release, but code in progress. Later on, official releases will be packed.


source code documentation

the following links need text embedding

CSR Runners

CSR Initialization

CSR Photosynthesis

CSR Soil model

CSR General model structure

CSR source code documentation

CSR Runtime-Environment setup

CSR plant growth

CSR plant rates