Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 22795

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Evolutionary Sciences (ISEM), University of Montpellier, 34000 Montpellier, France
Interests: palaeoecology; palaeoclimatology; macroecology; biogeography; palynology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Evolutionary Sciences (ISEM), University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France
Interests: climate change; fire ecology; boreal Ecosystem; paleoecology; forest management

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Universität Augsburg, Alter Postweg 118, 86159 Augsburg, Germany
Interests: paleoecology; vegetation modeling; forestry; disturbances; biogeography; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forests provide many ecosystem services such as carbon regulation, biodiversity preservation, and, therefore, important resources for humans. With ongoing global climate change, the range of many species composing the forest biomes is endangered with local or full extinction because of their slow migration and/or adaptation rates.

Forest managers, biological conservationists, and policymakers need scientific-based solutions to mitigate the threat of species in the current context. The need to develop multidisciplinary and multiscale approaches with an integration of both present-day observations and a historical perspective must also be stressed. Modern population genetics can evaluate species diversity and potential adaptation. Palaeoecological time series may inform us about past species occurrences and range changes, their migration rates and routes, and their potential resilience to past climate changes and disturbance regimes. Vegetation models allow us to predict potentially suitable habitats for threatened individual species and populations.

This Special Issue will demonstrate how palaeoecology, modern genetics, and modeling may act together to evaluate the environmental threats on forests and how they may contribute to the long-term conservation strategies.

Dr. Rachid Cheddadi
Prof. Dr. Adam A Ali
Dr. Cécile Remy
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • forest conservation and ecology
  • palaeoecology
  • phylogeography
  • vegetation modeling
  • biogeography
  • trees genetics
  • disturbance regimes
  • resilience

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

12 pages, 5157 KiB  
Article
Guiding Conservation for Mountain Tree Species in Lebanon
by Rachid Cheddadi and Carla Khater
Forests 2022, 13(5), 711; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13050711 - 30 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2144
Abstract
The objective of this study is to contribute to the conservation of upland tree species in the face of climate change. We used a conservation index to prioritize the areas and populations of three conifer species in the mountains of Lebanon. This conservation [...] Read more.
The objective of this study is to contribute to the conservation of upland tree species in the face of climate change. We used a conservation index to prioritize the areas and populations of three conifer species in the mountains of Lebanon. This conservation index integrates (1) mountain topography to identify areas that could provide a suitable microclimate, (2) genetic diversity to assess the adaptive capacity of populations in these mountain areas, and (3) a hypothetical climate change scenario that could affect this Mediterranean region. The idea of this index is to prioritize protected areas based on a match between the relevance of the area to be protected and the populations that need local and long-term protection. The stronger the match, the higher the priority of the area to be protected. We applied this conservation index to 36 populations of 15 fir, 15 cedar, and 6 juniper. These populations were genotyped by different authors whose published data we used. The results show that 10 populations of the 3 species have a very high index and 9 others have a lower but still high index, indicating a high conservation priority. These 19 populations occur in 5 different areas that we delineated and that form a network along the Lebanon Mountains. We hypothesize that the conservation of these 19 populations across the Lebanon Mountains could contribute to the long-term sustainability of the 3 species in the face of a 2 °C increase in mean seasonal temperature and a 20% decrease in seasonal precipitation compared to the current climate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

23 pages, 11293 KiB  
Article
Towards a More Realistic Simulation of Plant Species with a Dynamic Vegetation Model Using Field-Measured Traits: The Atlas Cedar, a Case Study
by Alain Hambuckers, Franck Trolliet, Marie Dury, Alexandra-Jane Henrot, Kristof Porteman, Yassine El Hasnaoui, Jan Van den Bulcke, Tom De Mil, Cécile C. Remy, Rachid Cheddadi and Louis François
Forests 2022, 13(3), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13030446 - 11 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2600
Abstract
Improving the model-based predictions of plant species under a projected climate is essential to better conserve our biodiversity. However, the mechanistic link between climatic variation and plant response at the species level remains relatively poorly understood and not accurately developed in Dynamic Vegetation [...] Read more.
Improving the model-based predictions of plant species under a projected climate is essential to better conserve our biodiversity. However, the mechanistic link between climatic variation and plant response at the species level remains relatively poorly understood and not accurately developed in Dynamic Vegetation Models (DVMs). We investigated the acclimation to climate of Cedrus atlantica (Atlas cedar), an endemic endangered species from northwestern African mountains, in order to improve the ability of a DVM to simulate tree growth under climatic gradients. Our results showed that the specific leaf area, leaf C:N and sapwood C:N vary across the range of the species in relation to climate. Using the model parameterized with the three traits varying with climate could improve the simulated local net primary productivity (NPP) when compared to the model parameterized with fixed traits. Quantifying the influence of climate on traits and including these variations in DVMs could help to better anticipate the consequences of climate change on species dynamics and distributions. Additionally, the simulation with computed traits showed dramatic drops in NPP over the course of the 21st century. This finding is in line with other studies suggesting the decline in the species in the Rif Mountains, owing to increasing water stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

18 pages, 12901 KiB  
Article
Origin, Persistence, and Vulnerability to Climate Changes of Podocarpus Populations in Central African Mountains
by Jérémy Migliore, Anne-Marie Lézine, Michel Veuille, Gaston Achoundong, Barthélémy Tchiengué, Arthur F. Boom, Franck K. Monthe, Gaël U. D. Bouka, Stephen F. Omondi, Lawrence Wagura, Francisco Maiato P. Gonçalves, Tariq Stévart, João N. M. Farminhão and Olivier J. Hardy
Forests 2022, 13(2), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020208 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2465
Abstract
Background and objectives—Podocarpus latifolius (synonym of P. milanjianus) is a key tree representative of Afromontane forests where it is highly threatened by climate and land-use changes. While large populations occur in East Africa, only a few isolated and usually small populations [...] Read more.
Background and objectives—Podocarpus latifolius (synonym of P. milanjianus) is a key tree representative of Afromontane forests where it is highly threatened by climate and land-use changes. While large populations occur in East Africa, only a few isolated and usually small populations remain in western Central Africa (Cameroon to Angola). Studying the evolutionary history of such relictual populations can thus be relevant to understand their resilience under changing environments. Materials and Methods—we developed nine polymorphic nuclear microsatellites (nSSRs) to estimate genetic variability, (historical) gene flow, and demographic changes among natural populations from Central to East Africa. Results—despite the extended distribution range of P. latifolius, a strong isolation-by-distance pattern emerges at the intra-population scale, indicating low seed and pollen dispersal capacities. Central African populations display a lower genetic diversity (He = 0.34 to 0.61) and are more differentiated from each other (FST = 0.28) than are East African populations (He = 0.65 to 0.71; FST = 0.10), suggesting high genetic drift in the Central African populations. Spatial genetic structure reveals past connections between East and West Africa but also a gene flow barrier across the equator in western Central Africa. Demographic modelling anchors the history of current lineages in the Pleistocene and supports a strong demographic decline in most western populations during the last glacial period. By contrast, no signature of demographic change was detected in East African populations. Conclusions—in Cameroon, our results exclude a recent (re)colonization from one source population of all mountain ranges, but rather indicate long-term persistence of populations in each mountain with fluctuating sizes. A higher impact of genetic drift and further loss of diversity can be expected by survival through climatically unfavorable periods in such small refugial populations. Tracking the Quaternary legacy of podocarp populations is thus essential for their conservation since there is a temporal gap between environment crises and an ecological/genetic answer at the population level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

18 pages, 1969 KiB  
Article
Past Disturbance–Present Diversity: How the Coexistence of Four Different Forest Communities within One Patch of a Homogeneous Geological Substrate Is Possible
by Piotr T. Zaniewski, Artur Obidziński, Wojciech Ciurzycki and Katarzyna Marciszewska
Forests 2022, 13(2), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020198 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2001
Abstract
Understanding the relationship between disturbance and forest community dynamics is a key factor in sustainable forest management and conservation planning. The study aimed to determine the main factors driving unusual differentiation of forest vegetation into four communities, all coexisting on the same geological [...] Read more.
Understanding the relationship between disturbance and forest community dynamics is a key factor in sustainable forest management and conservation planning. The study aimed to determine the main factors driving unusual differentiation of forest vegetation into four communities, all coexisting on the same geological substrate. The fieldwork, conducted on the fluvioglacial sand area in Central Poland, consisted of vegetation sampling, together with soil identification and sampling, up to depths of 150 cm. Additional soil parameters were measured in the laboratory. A Geographical Information System was applied to assess variables related to topography and forest continuity. Vegetation was classified and forest communities identified. Canonical Correspondence Analysis indicated significant effects of organic horizon thickness, forest continuity, soil disturbance and soil organic matter content on vegetation composition. We found that the coexistence of four forest communities, including two Natura 2000 habitats, a Cladonia-Scots pine forest and an acidophilous oak forest (codes–91T0 and 9190 respectively), resulted from former agricultural use of the land followed by secondary succession. The lowest soil-disturbance level was observed within late-successional acidophilous oak forest patches. Nearly complete soil erosion was found within the early-successional Cladonia-Scots pine forest. We propose that both protected habitat types may belong to the same successional sere, and discuss the possibility of replacement of the early- and late-successional forest habitat types in the context of sustainable forest management and conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

19 pages, 41649 KiB  
Article
The Mediterranean Old-Growth Forests: Anomalies or Relicts? The Contribution of Soil Charcoal Analysis
by Vincent Robin, Stefan Dreibrodt and Brigitte Talon
Forests 2021, 12(11), 1541; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12111541 - 8 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2122
Abstract
Old-growth forests are of high interest for biodiversity conservation, especially in the disturbance-prone Mediterranean landscapes. However, it remains unclear whether the survival of patches of old-growth forest in the degraded Mediterranean landscapes results from local anomalies or from past, larger forests. Therefore, in [...] Read more.
Old-growth forests are of high interest for biodiversity conservation, especially in the disturbance-prone Mediterranean landscapes. However, it remains unclear whether the survival of patches of old-growth forest in the degraded Mediterranean landscapes results from local anomalies or from past, larger forests. Therefore, in this study, we assessed (1) the origin, (2) the long-term ecological trajectory, and (3) the mechanism(s) that explain the survival of a Mediterranean old-growth forest, the Sainte-Baume forest. To achieve this, we used soil charcoal analysis. We opened fifteen soil profiles in the forest and five in its surrounding areas for soil description and sampling. The soil descriptions enabled us to highlight in situ soil horizon and colluvial layers. A total of 1656 charcoal pieces from different soil samples were taxonomically identified to characterize the composition of past forests. Selected charcoal pieces (n = 34) were dated to obtain chronological data. Our investigations indicate that the survival of the Mediterranean old-growth forest, in the context of the semi-open/open Mediterranean landscapes, is the result of a combination of biotic and abiotic factors, which reduced the influence of past forest disturbances. Thus, the resistance and resilience of the forest areas are preserved over a long-term ecological trajectory. Therefore, the potential of Mediterranean old-growth forests as baseline reference points for the conservation of biodiversity is related to the identification and maintenance of the local biotic and abiotic factors which allowed the survival of the old-growth forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

0 pages, 2450 KiB  
Article
Lean Pattern in an Altitude Range Shift of a Tree Species: Abies pinsapo Boiss.
by Antonio González-Hernández, Diego Nieto-Lugilde, Julio Peñas and Francisca Alba-Sánchez
Forests 2021, 12(11), 1451; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12111451 - 25 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3048
Abstract
Organisms modify their geographical distributions in response to changes in environmental conditions, or modify their affinity to such conditions, to avoid extinction. This study explored the altitudinal shift of Abies pinsapo Boiss. in the Baetic System. We analysed the potential distribution of the [...] Read more.
Organisms modify their geographical distributions in response to changes in environmental conditions, or modify their affinity to such conditions, to avoid extinction. This study explored the altitudinal shift of Abies pinsapo Boiss. in the Baetic System. We analysed the potential distribution of the realised and reproductive niches of A. pinsapo populations in the Ronda Mountains (Southern Spain) by using species distribution models (SDMs) for two life stages within the current populations. Then, we calculated the species’ potential altitudinal shifts and identified the areas in which the processes of persistence and migration predominated. The realised and reproductive niches of A. pinsapo are different to one another, which may indicate a displacement in its altitudinal distribution owing to changes in the climatic conditions of the Ronda Mountains. The most unfavourable conditions for the species indicate a trailing edge (~110 m) at the lower limit of its distribution and a leading edge (~55 m) at the upper limit. Even though the differences in the altitudinal shifts between the trailing and leading edges will not cause the populations to become extinct in the short term, they may threaten their viability if the conditions that are producing the contraction at the lower limit persist in the long term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

10 pages, 2970 KiB  
Article
Major Forest Changes in Subtropical China since the Last Ice Age
by Qiuchi Wan, Xiao Zhang, Yaze Zhang, Yuanfu Yue, Kangyou Huang, Rachid Cheddadi and Zhuo Zheng
Forests 2021, 12(10), 1314; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12101314 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1918
Abstract
In the subtropical zone of southern China, there was a considerable conversion of forests from deciduous to evergreen broadleaf in the early Holocene. However, the exact timing of this vegetation change and its relationship to climate are still unclear. We examined a high-resolution [...] Read more.
In the subtropical zone of southern China, there was a considerable conversion of forests from deciduous to evergreen broadleaf in the early Holocene. However, the exact timing of this vegetation change and its relationship to climate are still unclear. We examined a high-resolution pollen record collected in the mid-subtropical zone and then performed a correlation with regional data to reconstruct the history of forest ecosystems since the last deglaciation. Our data show that the expansion of the evergreen plant component already occurred at low elevations during the last deglaciation. The subtropical mountain landscape was not recolonized by evergreen forests until the mid-Holocene at about 8.1 ka BP. Based on fossil pollen reconstruction and climate model simulation, we conclude that the primary increase in evergreen components of subtropical ecosystems was triggered by postglacial temperature increase, and that a complete conversion from deciduous to evergreen forest ecosystems did not occur until Holocene winter temperatures and seasonal temperature contrast reached a threshold suitable for the growth and persistence of evergreen tree species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

15 pages, 2342 KiB  
Article
Gene Frequency Shift in Relict Abies pinsapo Forests Associated with Drought-Induced Mortality: Preliminary Evidence of Local-Scale Divergent Selection
by Irene Cobo-Simón, Belén Méndez-Cea, José Ignacio Seco, Jill Wegrzyn, Juan Carlos Linares and Francisco Javier Gallego
Forests 2021, 12(9), 1220; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12091220 - 8 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2024
Abstract
Current climate change constitutes a challenge for the survival of several drought-sensitive forests. The study of the genetic basis of adaptation offers a suitable way to understand how tree species may respond to future climatic conditions, as well as to design suitable conservation [...] Read more.
Current climate change constitutes a challenge for the survival of several drought-sensitive forests. The study of the genetic basis of adaptation offers a suitable way to understand how tree species may respond to future climatic conditions, as well as to design suitable conservation and management strategies. Here, we focus on selected genetic signatures of the drought-sensitive relict fir, Abies pinsapo Boiss. Field sampling of 156 individuals was performed in two elevation ecotones, characterized by widespread A. pinsapo decline and mortality. The DNA from dead trees was investigated and compared to living individuals, accounting for different ages and elevations. We studied the genes gated outwardly-rectifying K+ (GORK) channel and Plasma membrane Intrinsic Protein (PIP1) aquaporin, previously related to drought response in plant model species, to test whether drought was the main abiotic factor driving the decline of A. pinsapo forests. A combination of linear regression and factor models were used to test these selection signatures, as well as a fixation index (Fst), used here to analyze the genetic structure. The results were consistent among these approaches, supporting a statistically significant association of the GORK gene with survival in one of the A. pinsapo populations. These results provide preliminary evidence for the potential role of the GORK gene in the resilience to drought of A. pinsapo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

16 pages, 4223 KiB  
Review
Forest Transformation in the Wake of Colonization: The Quijos Andean Amazonian Flank, Past and Present
by Fausto O. Sarmiento, Jack Rodríguez and Alden Yepez-Noboa
Forests 2022, 13(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13010011 - 22 Dec 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2925
Abstract
Forest transformation modified the Quijos’ ancient mountainscapes in three ways: scientific approximation, entrepreneurial investing, and community engagement. We concentrate the study in the Cumandá Protected Forest reserve as exemplar in the Quijos valley. Our objective is to understand forest transition trends and prospects [...] Read more.
Forest transformation modified the Quijos’ ancient mountainscapes in three ways: scientific approximation, entrepreneurial investing, and community engagement. We concentrate the study in the Cumandá Protected Forest reserve as exemplar in the Quijos valley. Our objective is to understand forest transition trends and prospects of sustainability by answering qualitative research questions of impact on cloud forest vegetation from a socioecological standpoint. We used ethnographic work, personal interviews, surveys to the community, and queries to authorities; our qualitative methods included critical discourse analyses, onomastic interpretation, and matrix comparison for ecological legacies, focused on three sectors of the economy that we posit impacted these forests, all indicative of a more competitive, globalized framework: forest tourism, retreating forest frontier, and mining forested watersheds. We found that these sectors also helped alleviate poverty in local communities so that ecotourism, non-traditional forest product harvest, and subsistence mining of water could become stewards, despite the fact that such a nuanced approach has not yet been fully implemented by local governments. We conclude that Hostería Cumandá promotes new conservation narratives in positive ways, since it fuels grassroots organizations to incorporate nature conservation into restoration ecology efforts, provides studies on mountain forest species of concern in the area, generates local employment, and converts a transitory, ephemeral attraction into an international tourism destination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past Environmental Changes and Forest Conservation)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop