Dryland ecosystems are globally widespread and have a large impact on the global land carbon sink. Yet a detailed optimisation of dynamic vegetation models for these ecosystems is lacking. This works contributes to resolving this problem. Based on data from our own field work, we parameterised two dynamic vegetation models to dryland conditions, specifically the Sudano-Sahel region. The optimised parameterisation enables the models to realistically simulate carbon and water fluxes measured at several fluxtower sites across the region, as well as several satellite data products. Using these models, we then studied how climatic factors and soil texture may influence the functioning of dryland ecosystems. By using and tuning dynamic vegetation models for simulating dryland vegetation, this work provides a unique insight into dryland ecosystem functioning.