Patterns and drivers of regeneration of tree species in forests of peninsular Spain

Vayreda J., Gracia M., Martinez-Vilalta J., Retana J. (2013) Patterns and drivers of regeneration of tree species in forests of peninsular Spain. Journal of Biogeography. 40: 1252-1265.
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Doi: 10.1111/jbi.12105

Resum:

Aim: Our study aimed to identify and explore the main factors that influence tree recruitment of multiple species at a regional scale across peninsular Spain, an understanding of which is essential for predicting future forest species composition in the face of ongoing environmental change. The study focused on the dynamics of the key transition phase from saplings to adult trees. Location: The forests of peninsular Spain. Methods: We used the extensive network of plots sampled in two consecutive Spanish national forest inventories (> 30,000 plots) to identify the factors that determine regeneration patterns of the 10 most abundant forest species of Spain at relatively large temporal (c. 10 years) and spatial scales (across Spain): five coniferous species of Pinus (pines) and five broadleaved species of the genera Fagus and Quercus. We fitted separate generalized linear models for the pine species and the broadleaved species to assess the response of sapling abundance and ingrowth rate to the spatial variability of climate (temperature, water availability and recent warming), forest structure (tree density, understorey and overstorey canopy cover, and basal area change) and disturbances (previous forest logging, wildfires and grazing). Results: Mean sapling abundance was four times higher for broadleaved species than for pines, while mean annual ingrowth was twice as high. Sapling abundance and ingrowth rate were mainly determined by stand structure, both in pines and broadleaved trees. The direct effects of disturbances and climate were comparatively smaller, and there was no detectable effect of recent warming. Main conclusions: The higher values of ingrowth rate of broadleaved species can be explained by their ability to maintain a higher sapling bank due to their greater shade tolerance. This differential response of pines and broadleaved species to canopy closure suggests a probable increase in broadleaved species at the expense of pines. This transition could occur earlier in stands with faster canopy closure dynamics. Spatially explicit, mixed-species demographic models incorporating both the ingrowth and the tree mortality components are needed for predicting the composition of future forests. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Recent climate changes interact with stand structure and management to determine changes in tree carbon stocks in Spanish forests

Vayreda J., Martinez-Vilalta J., Gracia M., Retana J. (2012) Recent climate changes interact with stand structure and management to determine changes in tree carbon stocks in Spanish forests. Global Change Biology. 18: 1028-1041.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02606.x

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Most temperate forests are accumulating carbon (C) and may continue to do so in the near future. However, the situation may be different in water-limited ecosystems, where the potentially positive effects of C and N fertilization and rising temperatures interact with water availability. In this study, we use the extensive network of plots of two consecutive Spanish national forest inventories to identify the factors that determine the spatial variation of the C stock change, growth, and mortality rate of forests in Peninsular Spain (below- and aboveground). We fitted general linear models to assess the response of C stock change and its components to the spatial variability of climate (in terms of water availability), forest structure (tree density and C stock), previous forest management, and the recent warming trend. Our results show that undisturbed forests in Peninsular Spain are accumulating C at a rate of ~1.4 Mg C ha -1 yr -1, and that forest structural variables are the main determinants of forest growth and C stock change. Water availability was positively related to growth and C accumulation. On the other hand, recent warming has reduced growth rate and C accumulation, especially in wet areas. Spatial variation in mortality (in terms of C loss) was mostly driven by differences in growth rate across plots, and was consistent with 'natural', self-thinning dynamics related to the recent abandonment of forest management over large areas of Spain, with the consequent increase in tree density and competition. Interestingly, the negative effect of warming on forest C accumulation disappears if only managed stands are considered, emphasizing the potential of forest management to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, the effect of forest management was weak and, in some cases, not significant, implying the need of further research on its impact. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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