Special Issue "Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Juan A. Blanco
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Guest Editor
Department of Ciencias del Medio Natural, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Navarra, Spain
Interests: forest ecology; ecological modeling; climate change; sustainable forest management; ecological models
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Yueh-Hsin Lo
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Guest Editor
Dep. Ciencias, Universidad Publica de Navarra Campus de Arrosadia, Pamplona, 31006 Navarra, Spain
Interests: ecological modelling; dendroclimatology; forest management; climate change; forest ecology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Ester González-de-Andrés
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Dep. Ciencias, Universidad Publica de Navarra Campus de Arrosadia, Pamplona, Navarra, 31006, Spain
Interests: forest ecology; ecosystem modeling; dendrochronology; data analysis; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent research has shown that climate change is already altering tree species ranges, mortality and growth rates. Recent analyses of the potential effects of climate change on tree growth in Europe and America have suggested that important timber species may lose suitable habitat and suffer adversely from a combination of warming trends and reduced growing season precipitation. In contrast, other species may actually expand their range and potentially show improved growth rates in parts of their existing range, or show potential for their use as commercial species in new regions. Research has uncovered species-specific growth responses to climate change. In addition, the complex interactions between tree growth and temperature, water, nutrients, and carbon dioxide are also modulated by inter- and intra-specific competition levels. The state-of-the-art currently focuses on understanding how forest ecosystems, and not only tree species, could respond to climate change. On this respect, the potential resilience of mixed forests towards changes in growing conditions could also be used to adapt forest management to the novel growing conditions that are slowly but steadily unfolding. Therefore, advancing the current knowledge of how climate change can influence tree growth and forest ecosystems is the focus of this Special Issue.

Dr. Juan A. Blanco
Dr. Yueh-Hsin Lo
Dr. Ester González-de-Andrés
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • tree growth and development
  • climate change and mixed forests
  • influence of climate on forest functioning
  • influence of climate on forest structure
  • climate change and disturbances on forests
  • dendroclimatology
  • dendroecology
  • ecosystem-level forest modelling

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Editorial
Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems: More Than Just Temperature
Forests 2021, 12(5), 630; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12050630 - 16 May 2021
Viewed by 555
Abstract
Recent research has shown that climate change is already altering tree species ranges, mortality and growth rates [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)

Research

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Article
Recent Consequences of Climate Change Have Affected Tree Growth in Distinct Nothofagus macrocarpa (DC.) FM Vaz & Rodr Age Classes in Central Chile
Forests 2019, 10(8), 653; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10080653 - 02 Aug 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1135
Abstract
Forests play an important role in water and carbon cycles in semiarid regions such as the Mediterranean ecosystems. Previous research in the Chilean Mediterranean forests revealed a break point in 1980 in regional tree-ring chronologies linked to climate change. However, it is still [...] Read more.
Forests play an important role in water and carbon cycles in semiarid regions such as the Mediterranean ecosystems. Previous research in the Chilean Mediterranean forests revealed a break point in 1980 in regional tree-ring chronologies linked to climate change. However, it is still unclear which populations and age classes are more affected by recent increases in drought conditions. In this study, we investigated the influence of recent variations in precipitation, temperature, and CO2 concentrations on tree growth of various populations and age classes of Nothofagus macrocarpa trees in Central Chile. We sampled 10 populations from five sites of N. macrocarpa through its whole geographic distribution in both Coastal and Andes ranges. We used standard dendrochronological methods to (i) group populations using principal component analysis, (ii) separate age classes (young, mature, and old trees), (iii) evaluate linear growth trends based on the basal area increment (BAI), and (iv) analyze the link between BAI and atmospheric changes using linear mixed-effects models. Results showed that young trees are more sensitive to climate variability. Regarding population grouping, we observed that all population clusters were sensitive to winter-spring precipitation, but only the Andes and Coastal populations were negatively correlated with temperature. The results of CO2 fertilization analyses were controversial and unclear. Since young trees from all population clusters reacted positively in the phase with an increase of atmospheric CO2 between 1980 and 2014, this behavior was not translated into growth for the last 15 years (2000–2014). However, it should be noted that the young trees of the highest elevation populations did not have a negative growth trend, so it seems that CO2 counteracted the negative effect of recent regional climate change (increase in temperature and precipitation decrease) in these population trees. Further studies are needed to assess the effects of climate variability over other ecological and physiological processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
Development of a Tree Growth Difference Equation and Its Application in Forecasting the Biomass Carbon Stocks of Chinese Forests in 2050
Forests 2019, 10(7), 582; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10070582 - 12 Jul 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1446
Abstract
Global climate change has raised concerns about the relationship between ecosystems and forests, which is a core component of the carbon cycle and a critical factor in understanding and mitigating the effects of climate change. Forest models and sufficient information for predictions are [...] Read more.
Global climate change has raised concerns about the relationship between ecosystems and forests, which is a core component of the carbon cycle and a critical factor in understanding and mitigating the effects of climate change. Forest models and sufficient information for predictions are important for ensuring efficient afforestation activities and sustainable forest development. Based on the theory of difference equations and the general rules of tree growth, this study established a difference equation for the relationship between the ratio of tree diameter at breast height (DBH) to the tree height and age of age of China’s main arbor species. A comparison with equations that represent the traditional tree growth models, i.e., Logistic and Richards equations, showed that the difference equations exhibited higher precision for both fitting and verification data. Moreover, the biomass carbon stocks (BCS) of Chinese forests from 2013 to 2050 were predicted by combining the 8th Chinese Ministry of Forestry and partial continuous forest inventory (CFI) data sets. The results showed that the BCS of Chinese forests would increase from 7342 to 11,030 terra grams of carbon (Tg C) in 2013–2050, with an annual biomass C (carbon) sink of 99.68 Tg C year−1, and they indicated that the Chinese land-surface forest vegetation has an important carbon sequestration capability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
Most Southern Scots Pine Populations Are Locally Adapted to Drought for Tree Height Growth
Forests 2019, 10(7), 555; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10070555 - 02 Jul 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1449
Abstract
Most populations of Scots pine in Spain are locally adapted to drought, with only a few populations at the southernmost part of the distribution range showing maladaptations to the current climate. Increasing tree heights are predicted for most of the studied populations by [...] Read more.
Most populations of Scots pine in Spain are locally adapted to drought, with only a few populations at the southernmost part of the distribution range showing maladaptations to the current climate. Increasing tree heights are predicted for most of the studied populations by the year 2070, under the RCP 8.5 scenario. These results are probably linked to the capacity of this species to acclimatize to new climates. The impact of climate change on tree growth depends on many processes, including the capacity of individuals to respond to changes in the environment. Pines are often locally adapted to their environments, leading to differences among populations. Generally, populations at the margins of the species’ ranges show lower performances in fitness-related traits than core populations. Therefore, under expected changes in climate, populations at the southern part of the species’ ranges could be at a higher risk of maladaptation. Here, we hypothesize that southern Scots pine populations are locally adapted to current climate, and that expected changes in climate may lead to a decrease in tree performance. We used Scots pine tree height growth data from 15-year-old individuals, measured in six common gardens in Spain, where plants from 16 Spanish provenances had been planted. We analyzed tree height growth, accounting for the climate of the planting sites, and the climate of the original population to assess local adaptation, using linear mixed-effect models. We found that: (1) drought drove differences among populations in tree height growth; (2) most populations were locally adapted to drought; (3) tree height was predicted to increase for most of the studied populations by the year 2070 (a concentration of RCP 8.5). Most populations of Scots pine in Spain were locally adapted to drought. This result suggests that marginal populations, despite inhabiting limiting environments, can be adapted to the local current conditions. In addition, the local adaptation and acclimation capacity of populations can help margin populations to keep pace with climate change. Our results highlight the importance of analyzing, case-by-case, populations’ capacities to cope with climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
Divergent Last Century Tree Growth along An Altitudinal Gradient in A Pinus sylvestris L. Dry-edge Population
Forests 2019, 10(7), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10070532 - 26 Jun 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1084
Abstract
Research Highlights: This research highlights the importance of environmental gradients in shaping tree growth responses to global change drivers and the difficulty of attributing impacts to a single directional driver. Background and Objectives: Temperature increases associated with climate change might strongly influence tree [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: This research highlights the importance of environmental gradients in shaping tree growth responses to global change drivers and the difficulty of attributing impacts to a single directional driver. Background and Objectives: Temperature increases associated with climate change might strongly influence tree growth and forest productivity in temperate forest species. However, the direction and intensity of these effects at the dry edge of species range are still unclear, particularly given the interaction between local factors and other global change drivers such as land use change, atmospheric CO2 increase and nitrogen deposition. While recent studies suggest that tree growth in cool temperate forests has accelerated during the last decades of the 20th century, other studies suggest a prevalence of declining growth, especially in dry-edge populations. Materials and Methods: Using historical forest inventories, we analyzed last century tree growth trends (1930–2010) along an elevation gradient (1350–1900 meters above sea level (m a.s.l.)) in a dry edge scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest in Central Iberian Peninsula. Growth was estimated as decadal volume increments in harvested trees of different size classes from 1930 to 2010 (1930–1940, 1939–1949, 1949–1959, 1959–1968, 1989–1999, 2000–2010). Results: Our results showed opposite growth trends over time depending on elevation. While tree growth has accelerated in the low end of the altitudinal gradient, tree growth slowed down at higher elevations (1624–1895 m a.s.l.). Moreover, the magnitude of growth reduction along the altitudinal gradient increased with tree age. Conclusions: Throughout the last 80 years, growth trends in a rear-edge Pinus. sylvestris forest has shown divergent patterns along an altitudinal gradient. Specifically, environmental conditions or other factors, may have become more adverse for growth at high altitudes and have improved at low altitudes. This suggests that local factors such as topography can modulate the impact of climate change on forest ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
Physiological and Growth Responses to Increasing Drought of an Endangered Tree Species in Southwest China
Forests 2019, 10(6), 514; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10060514 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1166
Abstract
Research Highlights: We compared annually resolved records of tree-ring width and stable isotope of dead and surviving Fokienia hodginsii (Dunn) Henry et Thomas trees. We provide new insights into the relationships and sensitivity of tree growth to past and current climate, and explored [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: We compared annually resolved records of tree-ring width and stable isotope of dead and surviving Fokienia hodginsii (Dunn) Henry et Thomas trees. We provide new insights into the relationships and sensitivity of tree growth to past and current climate, and explored the underlying mechanism of drought-induced mortality in F. hodginsii. Background and Objectives: Drought-induced tree decline and mortality are increasing in many regions around the world. Despite the high number of studies that have explored drought-induced decline, species-specific responses to drought still makes it difficult to apply general responses to specific species. The endangered conifer species, Fokienia hodginsii, has experienced multiple drought-induced mortality events in recent years. Our objective was to investigate the historical and current responses to drought of this species. Materials and Methods: We used annually resolved ring-width and δ13C chronologies to investigate tree growth and stand physiological responses to climate change and elevated CO2 concentration (Ca) in both dead and living trees between 1960 and 2015. Leaf intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci), Ci/Ca and intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) were derived from δ13C. Results: δ13C were positively correlated with mean vapor pressure deficit and PDSI from previous October to current May, while ring widths were more sensitive to climatic conditions from previous June to September. Moreover, the relationships between iWUE, basal area increment (BAI), and Ci/Ca changed over time. From 1960s to early 1980s, BAI and iWUE maintained a constant relationship with increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. After the mid-1980s, we observed a decrease in tree growth, increase in the frequency of missing rings, and an unprecedented increase in sensitivity of 13C and radial growth to drought, likely related to increasingly dry conditions. Conclusions: We show that the recent increase in water stress is likely the main trigger for the unprecedented decline in radial growth and spike in mortality of F. hodginsii, which may have resulted from diminished carbon fixation and water availability. Given that the drought severity and frequency in the region is expected to increase in the future, our results call for effective mitigation strategies to maintain this endangered tree species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
Insights into the BRT (Boosted Regression Trees) Method in the Study of the Climate-Growth Relationship of Masson Pine in Subtropical China
Forests 2019, 10(3), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10030228 - 05 Mar 2019
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 1596
Abstract
Dendroclimatology and dendroecology have entered mainstream dendrochronology research in subtropical and tropical areas. Our study focused on the use of the chronology series of Masson pine (Pinus massoniana Lamb.), the most widely distributed tree species in the subtropical wet monsoon climate regions [...] Read more.
Dendroclimatology and dendroecology have entered mainstream dendrochronology research in subtropical and tropical areas. Our study focused on the use of the chronology series of Masson pine (Pinus massoniana Lamb.), the most widely distributed tree species in the subtropical wet monsoon climate regions in China, to understand the tree growth response to ecological and hydroclimatic variability. The boosted regression trees (BRT) model, a nonlinear machine learning method, was used to explore the complex relationship between tree-ring growth and climate factors on a larger spatial scale. The common pattern of an asymptotic growth response to the climate indicated that the climate-growth relationship may be linear until a certain threshold. Once beyond this threshold, tree growth will be insensitive to some climate factors, after which a nonlinear relationship may occur. Spring and autumn climate factors are important controls of tree growth in most study areas. General circulation model (GCM) projections of future climates suggest that warming climates, especially temperatures in excess of those of the optimum growth threshold (as estimated by BRT), will be particularly threatening to the adaptation of Masson pine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
Modeling the Effect of Climate Change on the Potential Distribution of Qinghai Spruce (Picea crassifolia Kom.) in Qilian Mountains
Forests 2019, 10(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10010062 - 14 Jan 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1468
Abstract
Qinghai spruce forests play a key role in water conservation in the dry region of northwest China. So, it is necessary to understand the impacts of climate change on the species to implement adaptation strategies. Based on the four-emission scenario (i.e., RCP2.6 (Representative [...] Read more.
Qinghai spruce forests play a key role in water conservation in the dry region of northwest China. So, it is necessary to understand the impacts of climate change on the species to implement adaptation strategies. Based on the four-emission scenario (i.e., RCP2.6 (Representative Concentration Pathway), RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and RCP8.5) set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report, in the study, we predicted the potential distribution of Qinghai spruce (Picea crassifolia Kom.) under current and future scenarios using a maximum entropy (Maxent) model. Seven variables, selected from 22 variables according to correlation analysis combining with their contribution rates to the distribution, are used to simulate the potential distribution of the species under current and future scenarios. Simulated results are validated by area under the operating characteristic curve (AUC). Results demonstrate that elevation, mean temperature of wettest quarter, annual mean temperature, and mean diurnal range are more important in dominating the potential distribution of Qinghai spruce. Ratios of the suitable area to the total study area are 34.3% in current climate condition, 34% in RCP2.6, 33.9% in RCP4.5, 33.8% in RCP6.0, and 30.5% in RCP8.5, respectively. The warmer the climate condition is, the more area of higher suitable classification is changed to that of lower suitable classification. The ratios of real distribution area in simulated unsuitable class to the real distribution area change from 4.3% (60.7 km2) in the current climate to 13% (185 km2) in RCP8.5, suggesting that the real distribution area may decrease in the future. We conclude that there is a negative effect of climate change on the distribution of Qinghai spruce forest. The result can help decision-makers to draft adaptation countermeasures based on climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Article
Hierarchical Environmental Factors Affecting the Distribution of Abies koreana on the Korean Peninsula
Forests 2018, 9(12), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9120777 - 16 Dec 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1645
Abstract
A regional decline in the Korean fir (Abies koreana) has been observed since the 1980s in the subalpine region. To explain this decline, it is important to investigate the degree to which environmental factors have contributed to plant distributions on diverse [...] Read more.
A regional decline in the Korean fir (Abies koreana) has been observed since the 1980s in the subalpine region. To explain this decline, it is important to investigate the degree to which environmental factors have contributed to plant distributions on diverse spatial scales. We applied a hierarchical regression model to determine quantitatively the relationship between the abundance of Korean fir (seedlings) and diverse environmental factors across two different ecological scales. We measured Korean fir density and the occurrence of its seedlings in 102 (84) plots nested at five sites and collected a range of environmental factors at the same plots. Our model included hierarchical explanatory variables at both site-level (weather conditions) and plot-level (micro-topographic factors, soil properties, and competing species). The occurrence of Korean fir seedlings was positively associated with moss cover and rock cover but negatively related to dwarf bamboo cover. At the site level, winter precipitation was significantly and positively related to the occurrence of seedlings. A hierarchical Poisson regression model revealed that Korean fir density was negatively associated with slope aspect, topographic position index, Quercus mongolica cover, and mean summer temperature. Our results suggest that rising temperature, drought, and competition with other species are factors that impede the survival of the Korean fir. We can predict that the population of Korean fir will continue to decline in the subalpine, and only a few Korean fir will survive on northern slopes or valleys due to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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Review

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Review
Interactions between Climate and Nutrient Cycles on Forest Response to Global Change: The Role of Mixed Forests
Forests 2019, 10(8), 609; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10080609 - 24 Jul 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1661
Abstract
Forest ecosystems are undergoing unprecedented changes in environmental conditions due to global change impacts. Modification of global biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen, and the subsequent climate change are affecting forest functions at different scales, from physiology and growth of individual trees to [...] Read more.
Forest ecosystems are undergoing unprecedented changes in environmental conditions due to global change impacts. Modification of global biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen, and the subsequent climate change are affecting forest functions at different scales, from physiology and growth of individual trees to cycling of nutrients. This review summarizes the present knowledge regarding the impact of global change on forest functioning not only with respect to climate change, which is the focus of most studies, but also the influence of altered nitrogen cycle and the interactions among them. The carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization effect on tree growth is expected to be constrained by nutrient imbalances resulting from high N deposition rates and the counteractive effect of increasing water deficit, which interact in a complex way. At the community level, responses to global change are modified by species interactions that may lead to competition for resources and/or relaxation due to facilitation and resource partitioning processes. Thus, some species mixtures can be more resistant to drought than their respective pure forests, albeit it depends on environmental conditions and species’ functional traits. Climate change and nitrogen deposition have additional impacts on litterfall dynamics, and subsequent decomposition and nutrient mineralization processes. Elemental ratios (i.e., stoichiometry) are associated with important ecosystem traits, including trees’ adaptability to stress or decomposition rates. As stoichiometry of different ecosystem components are also influenced by global change, nutrient cycling in forests will be altered too. Therefore, a re-assessment of traditional forest management is needed in order to cope with global change. Proposed silvicultural systems emphasize the key role of diversity to assure multiple ecosystem services, and special attention has been paid to mixed-species forests. Finally, a summary of the patterns and underlying mechanisms governing the relationships between diversity and different ecosystems functions, such as productivity and stability, is provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Influence of Climate Change on Tree Growth and Forest Ecosystems)
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