Special Issue "Carbon-Water Relationships of the Forest Ecosystem under a Changing Climate"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 June 2022 | Viewed by 7074

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Hongyan Liu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, No. 5, Yiheyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100871, China
Interests: climate change and vegetation response; ecosystem vulnarability; tree growth

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Carbon assimilation and water consumption are two fundamental processes for forests. Investigating the relationships between these two processes is significant in order to understand the formation of ecosystem services that are indispensible for human living. Climate change can strongly alter the carbon-water relationships of forest ecosystems, which vary across ecosystems and are also dependent on regional climate and soil features. The change in carbon-water relationships is also related to what ecological level we focus on, for example, the individual tree, forest stand, and biome. Different kinds of methodology are therefore applied, from in situ monitoring to remote sensing inversion. With this Special Issue, we intend to collect research works on this topic, in order to make the patterns and possible determinants of changing carbon-water relationships of forest ecosystems over the world clearer. You are warmly welcome to submit your works on this topic whereever conducted and from whichever point of view.

Prof. Dr. Hongyan Liu
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • carbon assimilation
  • water consumption
  • ecohydrology
  • ecosystem service
  • drought resilience
  • climate change

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Carbon–Water Relationships of the Forest Ecosystem under a Changing Climate
Forests 2021, 12(5), 563; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12050563 - 30 Apr 2021
Viewed by 663
Abstract
In the new era of carbon neutrality, forest carbon assimilation has reappeared as an important research area [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Divergent Seasonal Patterns of Qinghai Spruce Growth with Elevation in Northwestern China
Forests 2022, 13(3), 388; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13030388 - 26 Feb 2022
Viewed by 608
Abstract
Dryland montane forests are important agents for soil and water resource conservation. The growth of these forests under climate warming is strongly affected by local environmental factors. However, how environmental factors impact intra-annual stem growth dynamics across environmental gradients in these regions remains [...] Read more.
Dryland montane forests are important agents for soil and water resource conservation. The growth of these forests under climate warming is strongly affected by local environmental factors. However, how environmental factors impact intra-annual stem growth dynamics across environmental gradients in these regions remains unclear. This work focused on assessing seasonal patterns of stem growth across different elevations and how environmental factors impact stem growth in the Qilian Mountains, northwestern China. The stem growth of 50 Qinghai spruce trees was monitored for two years across an elevation gradient from 2500 m to 3300 m above sea level (a.s.l.). We found that growth initiation occurred later as the elevation increased, and growth commenced when elevation-specific temperature thresholds were reached. However, growth cessation presented large elevational differences: cessation occurred much earlier at low elevations (2500 m and 2700 m a.s.l.). Exceptionally early growth cessation occurred predominantly at 2700 m a.s.l., which was correlated with seasonal drought/insufficient rainfall and low soil moisture occurring since mid-July 2015. Temperature and soil moisture were the key factors governing the daily rate of stem growth in the beginning, rapid growth, and end stages. Overall, due to effects of seasonal drought and low temperature on growth cessation and growth rate, the annual growth of Qinghai spruce was rather low at both low (2500–2700 m a.s.l.) and high (3100–3300 m a.s.l.) elevations; middle elevations (approximately 2900 m a.s.l.) might be the most favorable Qinghai spruce growth. Our results implied that tree growth will likely decline at low elevations and that the optimal elevation for Qinghai spruce growth in northwestern China is expected to shift upward under future climate warming. Full article
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Article
Tree-to-Shrub Shift Benefits the Survival of Quercus mongolica Fisch. ex Ledeb. at the Xeric Timberline
Forests 2022, 13(2), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020244 - 05 Feb 2022
Viewed by 363
Abstract
Woody species are either trees or shrubs, with the exception of approximately 9.2% “trub” species exhibiting both tree and shrub growth forms. Little is known thus far about the ecological importance of plant growth-form plasticity under a drying climate. Quercus mongolica Fisch. ex [...] Read more.
Woody species are either trees or shrubs, with the exception of approximately 9.2% “trub” species exhibiting both tree and shrub growth forms. Little is known thus far about the ecological importance of plant growth-form plasticity under a drying climate. Quercus mongolica Fisch. ex Ledeb., a dominant tree species of temperate forests in East Asia, typically shows tree-to-shrub growth-form shifts at the xeric timberline and is suitable to test whether growth-form plasticity can physiologically benefit plant drought acclimation. We quantified the tree architecture, drought stress, physiological drought tolerance, and nonstructural carbohydrates of Q. mongolica trees and shrubs on the opposite slope of the same mountain at the xeric timberline in July 2018. Compared with Q. mongolica trees on shady slopes, the shrubs on sunny slopes had less available water to use and were more severely threatened by drought. Moreover, the shrubs had stronger tolerance to drought but still tended to have less nonstructural carbohydrate accumulation. The tree-to-shrub shift effectively benefits the survival of Q. mongolica under a dry climate and may strongly contribute to forest dynamics and even fire regimes under climate drying, especially for sensitive ecosystems such as the xeric timberline, which will be vulnerable under future climate change scenarios. Full article
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Article
Impacts of Site Conditions and Stand Structure on the Biomass Allocation of Single Trees in Larch Plantations of Liupan Mountains of Northwest China
Forests 2022, 13(2), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13020177 - 24 Jan 2022
Viewed by 593
Abstract
Understanding the determinants of tree biomass allocation patterns among organs is crucial for both predicting the rate and potential of forest carbon sinks and guiding future multifunctional forest management. However, it is still not clear how the site conditions (e.g., elevation) and stand [...] Read more.
Understanding the determinants of tree biomass allocation patterns among organs is crucial for both predicting the rate and potential of forest carbon sinks and guiding future multifunctional forest management. However, it is still not clear how the site conditions (e.g., elevation) and stand structure (e.g., tree dominance, stand density) affect the biomass allocation of single trees in forests. This study was implemented in the Liupan Mountains of the Loess Plateau of Northwest China by collecting the related information of biomass data of 110 sample trees with different dominance and influencing factors within 23 sample plots of larch plantations set up along the elevation gradient. Based on these data, the response tendency and functions of biomass allocation of single trees to individual influencing factors of site conditions and forest structure were analyzed. Moreover, the results illustrated that the ratio between root biomass and aboveground biomass decreased significantly with rising stand age and tree density, but increased significantly with rising elevation, and there was no significant relationship with the dominance of individual trees. The results of this study revealed the importance of considering the influencing factors of site conditions and stand structure when developing dynamic models of tree biomass allocation. The results and research methods used in this study provide useful tools for quantifying the biomass allocation and carbon storage partitioning in the study area and other similar regions. Full article
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Article
The Spatially Inhomogeneous Influence of Snow on the Radial Growth of Schrenk Spruce (Picea schrenkiana Fisch. et Mey.) in the Ili-Balkhash Basin, Central Asia
Forests 2022, 13(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13010044 - 02 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 259
Abstract
Snow has an important impact on forest ecosystems in mountainous areas. In this study, we developed 14 tree-ring-width chronologies of Schrenk spruce (Picea schrenkiana Fisch. et Mey.) for the Ili-Balkhash Basin (IBB), Central Asia. We analyzed the response of radial growth to [...] Read more.
Snow has an important impact on forest ecosystems in mountainous areas. In this study, we developed 14 tree-ring-width chronologies of Schrenk spruce (Picea schrenkiana Fisch. et Mey.) for the Ili-Balkhash Basin (IBB), Central Asia. We analyzed the response of radial growth to temperature, precipitation and snow parameters. The results show that previous winter and current summer precipitation have an important influence on the radial growth of P. schrenkiana. Further, we find spatially inhomogeneous effects of snow on subsequent growing-season tree growth in IBB. The radial growth response of P. schrenkiana to snow shows a weak–strong–weak trend from west to east across the Ili-Balkhash Basin. This spatial difference is mainly related to precipitation, as snow has little effect on tree growth in regions that receive more precipitation. Thus, winter snow has an important influence on the radial growth of trees in regions that receive limited amounts of precipitation. Full article
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Article
Variation of Soil Organic Carbon Density with Plantation Age and Initial Vegetation Types in the Liupan Mountains Areas of Northwest China
Forests 2021, 12(12), 1811; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12121811 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 756
Abstract
Carbon sequestration of plantations formed by three kinds of forestation (natural forest to plantation (NP), grassland to plantation (GP), and cropland to plantation (CP)) greatly depends on the change of soil organic carbon density (SOCD) compared with its initial SOCD before forestation. However, [...] Read more.
Carbon sequestration of plantations formed by three kinds of forestation (natural forest to plantation (NP), grassland to plantation (GP), and cropland to plantation (CP)) greatly depends on the change of soil organic carbon density (SOCD) compared with its initial SOCD before forestation. However, this dependence was rarely studied, especially in semi-humid/arid regions with strong site variation. This limits the precise assessment and management of SOCD. Therefore, the SOCD variations of 0–100 cm soil layers in these three kinds of plantations were studied in the semi-humid/arid Liupan Mountains in northwestern China. The NP with high initial SOCD showed firstly a decrease and then an increase of SOCD up to 293.2 t·ha−1 at 40 years. The CP and GP with low and relatively high initial SOCD showed negligible and slight SOCD decrease after forestation, but then an increase up to 154.5 and 266.5 t·ha−1 at 40 years. After detecting the main factors influencing SOCD for each forestation mode, statistic relationships were fitted for predicting SOCD variation. This study indicates that besides forest age and biomass growth, the effects of initial vegetation, site-dependent initial SOCD, and SOCD capacity, also precipitation and air temperature in some cases, should be considered for more precise assessment and management of SOCD of plantations. Full article
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Article
Recent Warming-Induced Tree Growth Enhancement at the Tibetan Treeline and the Link to Improved Water-Use Efficiency
Forests 2021, 12(12), 1702; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12121702 - 04 Dec 2021
Viewed by 613
Abstract
Tree growth in high-elevation forests may increase as a result of increasing temperatures and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere (Ca). However, the pattern and the physiological mechanism on how these two factors interact to affect tree growth are still [...] Read more.
Tree growth in high-elevation forests may increase as a result of increasing temperatures and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere (Ca). However, the pattern and the physiological mechanism on how these two factors interact to affect tree growth are still poorly understood. Here, we analyzed the temporal changes in radial growth and tree-ring δ13C for Picea and Abies trees growing in both treeline and lower-elevation forests on the Tibetan Plateau. We found that the tree growth at the treeline has significantly accelerated during the past several decades but has remained largely stable or slightly declined at lower elevations. Further results based on tree-ring δ13C suggest that intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) was generally higher at the treeline than in lower-elevation forests, although increasing trends of iWUE existed for all sites. This study demonstrated that the synergetic effects of elevated Ca and increasing temperatures have increased tree growth at the treeline but may not lead to enhanced tree growth in lower-elevation forests due to drought stress. These results demonstrate the elevational dependence of tree growth responses to climatic changes in high-elevation forests from a physiologically meaningful perspective. Full article
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Article
Variation in Carbon Content among the Major Tree Species in Hemiboreal Forests in Latvia
Forests 2021, 12(9), 1292; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12091292 - 21 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 940
Abstract
This study was designed to estimate the variation in non-volatile carbon (C) content in different above- and belowground tree parts (stem, living branches, dead branches, stumps, coarse roots and small roots) and to develop country-specific weighted mean C content values for the major [...] Read more.
This study was designed to estimate the variation in non-volatile carbon (C) content in different above- and belowground tree parts (stem, living branches, dead branches, stumps, coarse roots and small roots) and to develop country-specific weighted mean C content values for the major tree species in hemiboreal forests in Latvia: Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), birch spp. (Betula spp.) and European aspen (Populus tremula L.). In total, 372 sample trees from 124 forest stands were selected and destructively sampled. As the tree samples were pre-treated by oven-drying before elemental analysis, the results of this study represent the non-volatile C fraction. Our findings indicate a significant variation in C content among the tree parts and studied species with a range of 504.6 ± 3.4 g·kg−1 (European aspen, coarse roots) to 550.6 ± 2.4 g·kg−1 (Scots pine, dead branches). The weighted mean C content values for whole trees ranged from 509.0 ± 1.6 g·kg−1 for European aspen to 533.2 ± 1.6 g·kg−1 for Scots pine. Only in Norway spruce was the whole tree C content significantly influenced by tree age and size. Our analysis revealed that the use of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) default C content values recommended for temperate and boreal ecological zones leads to a 5.1% underestimation of C stock in living tree biomass in Latvia’s forests. Thus, the country-specific weighted mean C content values for major tree species we provide may improve the accuracy of National Greenhouse Gas Inventory estimates. Full article
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Article
Drought Affected Ecosystem Water Use Efficiency of a Natural Oak Forest in Central China
Forests 2021, 12(7), 839; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12070839 - 25 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 602
Abstract
Global climate models project more frequent drought events in Central China. However, the effect of seasonal drought on ecosystem water use efficiency (WUE) and water regulation strategy in Central China’s natural forests is poorly understood. This study investigated variations in WUE associated with [...] Read more.
Global climate models project more frequent drought events in Central China. However, the effect of seasonal drought on ecosystem water use efficiency (WUE) and water regulation strategy in Central China’s natural forests is poorly understood. This study investigated variations in WUE associated with drought in a natural oak (Quercus aliena) forest in Central China from 2017 to 2020 at several timescales based on continuous CO2 and water vapor flux measurements. Results showed that the 4-year mean gross ecosystem production (GEP), evapotranspiration (ET) and WUE of the natural oak forest was 1613.2 ± 116 g Cm−2, 637.8 ± 163.3 mm and 2.6 ± 0.68 g Ckg−1 H2O, with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 7.2%, 25.6% and 26.4%, respectively. The inter-annual variation in WUE was large, primarily due to the variation in ET caused by seasonal drought. Drought increased WUE distinctly in summer and decreased it slightly in autumn. During summer drought, surface conductance (gs) usually decreased with an increase in VPD, but the ratios of stomatal sensitivity (m) and reference conductance (gsref) were 0.21 and 0.3 molm−2s−1ln(kPa)−1 in the summer of 2019 and 2020. Strong drought can also affect ecosystem WUE and water regulation strategy in the next year. Decrease in precipitation in spring increased annual WUE. These results suggested that drought in different seasons had different effects on ecosystem WUE. Overall, our findings suggest that the natural oak forest did not reduce GEP by increasing WUE (i.e., reducing ET) under spring and summer drought, which could be due to its typical anisohydric characteristics, although it can also reduce stomatal opening during long-term drought. Full article
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Article
Vegetation Determines Lake Sediment Carbon Accumulation during Holocene in the Forest–Steppe Ecotone in Northern China
Forests 2021, 12(6), 696; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12060696 - 28 May 2021
Viewed by 813
Abstract
To understand the past carbon accumulation of forest–steppe ecotone and to identify the main drivers of the long-term carbon dynamics, we selected Huangqihai Lake and analyzed the sediment records. We measured the organic carbon content (TOC; %) of sedimentary samples and quantified the [...] Read more.
To understand the past carbon accumulation of forest–steppe ecotone and to identify the main drivers of the long-term carbon dynamics, we selected Huangqihai Lake and analyzed the sediment records. We measured the organic carbon content (TOC; %) of sedimentary samples and quantified the carbon accumulation rate (CAR; g C m−2 yr−1). Furthermore, the climate, soil erosion, and vegetation development of the past 6800 years were reconstructed using physicochemical parameters and pollen records. Human activities were also obtained from a 2200-year history record. Our results showed that the CAR was high during 5800~4100 cal yr BP (40~60 g C m−2 yr−1), which is mainly attributed to the high sediment accumulation rate (SAR) during this period. Pearson’s correlation, redundancy analysis and hierarchical variation partitioning analyses suggested that the CAR was influenced by the SAR and TOC, while vegetation dynamics (broadleaved tree percentage and vegetation coverage) and local soil erosion were the main drivers of the TOC and SAR. Especially when the vegetation was dominated by broadleaved forests, the CAR was significantly high due to the high gross primary productivity and carbon density of forest compared with steppe. Our study highlights the direct influence of local vegetation and soil erosion on the CAR, whereas climate might influence indirectly by changing local vegetation and soil conditions. Moreover, our results showed that human activities had positive influences on the carbon accumulation dynamics in this region since 2200 cal yr BP by influencing the SAR. Full article
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