Large-scale recruitment limitation in Mediterranean pines: The role of Quercus ilex and forest successional advance as key regional drivers

Carnicer J., Coll M., Pons X., Ninyerola M., Vayreda J., Penuelas J. (2014) Large-scale recruitment limitation in Mediterranean pines: The role of Quercus ilex and forest successional advance as key regional drivers. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 23: 371-384.
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Doi: 10.1111/geb.12111

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Aim: Large-scale patterns of limitations in tree recruitment remain poorly described in the Mediterranean Basin, and this information is required to assess the impacts of global warming on forests. Here, we unveil the existence of opposite trends of recruitment limitation between the dominant genera Quercus and Pinus on a large scale and identify the key ecological drivers of these diverging trends. Location: Spain Methods: We gathered data from the Spanish National Forest inventory to assess recruitment trends for the dominant species (Pinus halepensis, Pinus pinea, Pinus pinaster, Pinus nigra, Pinus sylvestris, Pinus uncinata, Quercus suber, Quercus ilex, Quercus petraea, Quercus robur, Quercus faginea and Quercus pyrenaica). We assessed the direct and indirect drivers of recruitment by applying Bayesian structural equation modelling techniques. Results: Severe limitations in recruitment were observed across extensive areas for all Pinus species studied, with recruitment failure affecting 54-71% of the surveyed plots. In striking contrast, Quercus species expanded into 41% of the plots surveyed compared to only 10% for Pinus and had a lower local recruitment failure (29% of Quercus localities compared to 63% for Pinus species). Bayesian structural equation models highlighted the key role of the presence of Q.ilex saplings and the increase in the basal area of Q.ilex in limiting recruitment in five Pinus species. The recruitment of P.sylvestris and P.nigra showed the most negative trends and was negatively associated with the impacts of fire. Main conclusions: This study identified Q.ilex, the most widespread species in this area, as a key driver of recruitment shifts on a large scale, negatively affecting most pine species with the advance of forest succession. These results highlight that the future expansion/contraction of Q.ilex stands with ongoing climate change will be a key process indirectly controlling the demographic responses of Pinus species in the Mediterranean Basin. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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Multivariate effect gradients driving forest demographic responses in the Iberian Peninsula

Coll M., Penuelas J., Ninyerola M., Pons X., Carnicer J. (2013) Multivariate effect gradients driving forest demographic responses in the Iberian Peninsula. Forest Ecology and Management. 303: 195-209.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2013.04.010

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A precise knowledge of forest demographic gradients in the Mediterranean area is essential to assess future impacts of climate change and extreme drought events. Here we studied the geographical patterns of forest demography variables (tree recruitment, growth and mortality) of the main species in Spain and assessed their multiple ecological drivers (climate, topography, soil, forest stand attributes and tree-specific traits) as well as the geographical variability of their effects and interactions. Quantile modeling analyses allowed a synthetic description of the gradients of multiple covariates influencing forest demography in this area. These multivariate effect gradients showed significantly stronger interactions at the extremes of the rainfall gradient. Remarkably, in all demographic variables, qualitatively different levels of effects and interactions were observed across tree-size classes. In addition, significant differences in demographic responses and effect gradients were also evident between the dominant genus Quercus and Pinus. Quercus species presented significantly higher percentage of plots colonized by new recruits, whereas in Pinus recruitment limitation was significantly higher. Contrasting positive and negative growth responses to temperature were also observed in Quercus and Pinus, respectively. Overall, our results synthesize forest demographic responses across climatic gradients in Spain, and unveil the interactions between driving factors operating in the drier and wetter edges. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

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Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?

Doblas-Miranda E., Martinez-Vilalta J., Lloret F., Alvarez A., Avila A., Bonet F.J., Brotons L., Castro J., Curiel Yuste J., Diaz M., Ferrandis P., Garcia-Hurtado E., Iriondo J.M., Keenan T.F., Latron J., Llusia J., Loepfe L., Mayol M., More G., Moya D., Penuelas J., Pons X., Poyatos R., Sardans J., Sus O., Vallejo V.R., Vayreda J., Retana J. (0) Reassessing global change research priorities in mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: How far have we come and where do we go from here?. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 24: 25-43.
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Doi: 10.1111/geb.12224

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Aim: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems serve as reference laboratories for the investigation of global change because of their transitional climate, the high spatiotemporal variability of their environmental conditions, a rich and unique biodiversity and a wide range of socio-economic conditions. As scientific development and environmental pressures increase, it is increasingly necessary to evaluate recent progress and to challenge research priorities in the face of global change. Location: Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems. Methods: This article revisits the research priorities proposed in a 1998 assessment. Results: A new set of research priorities is proposed: (1) to establish the role of the landscape mosaic on fire-spread; (2) to further research the combined effect of different drivers on pest expansion; (3) to address the interaction between drivers of global change and recent forest management practices; (4) to obtain more realistic information on the impacts of global change and ecosystem services; (5) to assess forest mortality events associated with climatic extremes; (6) to focus global change research on identifying and managing vulnerable areas; (7) to use the functional traits concept to study resilience after disturbance; (8) to study the relationship between genotypic and phenotypic diversity as a source of forest resilience; (9) to understand the balance between C storage and water resources; (10) to analyse the interplay between landscape-scale processes and biodiversity conservation; (11) to refine models by including interactions between drivers and socio-economic contexts; (12) to understand forest-atmosphere feedbacks; (13) to represent key mechanisms linking plant hydraulics with landscape hydrology. Main conclusions: (1) The interactive nature of different global change drivers remains poorly understood. (2) There is a critical need for the rapid development of regional- and global-scale models that are more tightly connected with large-scale experiments, data networks and management practice. (3) More attention should be directed to drought-related forest decline and the current relevance of historical land use.

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