Anthropogenic-driven rapid shifts in tree distribution lead to increased dominance of broadleaf species

Vayreda, J., Martinez-Vilalta, J., Gracia, M., Canadell, J.G., Retana, J. (2016) Anthropogenic-driven rapid shifts in tree distribution lead to increased dominance of broadleaf species. Global Change Biology. 22: 3984-3995.
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Doi: 10.1111/gcb.13394

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Soil carbon stocks and their variability across the forests, shrublands and grasslands of peninsular Spain

Doblas-Miranda E., Rovira P., Brotons L., Martinez-Vilalta J., Retana J., Pla M., Vayreda J. (2013) Soil carbon stocks and their variability across the forests, shrublands and grasslands of peninsular Spain. Biogeosciences. 10: 8353-8361.
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Doi: 10.5194/bg-10-8353-2013

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Accurate estimates of C stocks and fluxes of soil organic carbon (SOC) are needed to assess the impact of climate and land use change on soil C uptake and soil C emissions to the atmosphere. Here, we present an assessment of SOC stocks in forests, shrublands and grasslands of peninsular Spain based on field measurements in more than 900 soil profiles. SOC to a depth of 1 m was modelled as a function of vegetation cover, mean annual temperature, total annual precipitation, elevation and the interaction between temperature and elevation, while latitude and longitude were used to model the correlation structure of the errors. The resulting statistical model was used to estimate SOC in the ∼8 million pixels of the Spanish Forest Map (29.3 × 106 ha). We present what we believe is the most reliable estimation of current SOC in forests, shrublands and grasslands of peninsular Spain thus far, based on the use of spatial modelling, the high number of profiles and the validity and refinement of the data layers employed. Mean concentration of SOC was 8.7 kg m-2, ranging from 2.3 kg m-2 in dry Mediterranean areas to 20.4 kg m -2 in wetter northern locations. This value corresponds to a total stock of 2.544 Tg SOC, which is four times the amount of C estimated to be stored in the biomass of Spanish forests. Climate and vegetation cover were the main variables influencing SOC, with important ecological implications for peninsular Spanish ecosystems in the face of global change. The fact that SOC was positively related to annual precipitation and negatively related to mean annual temperature suggests that future climate change predictions of increased temperature and reduced precipitation may strongly reduce the potential of Spanish soils as C sinks. However, this may be mediated by changes in vegetation cover (e.g. by favouring the development of forests associated to higher SOC values) and exacerbated by perturbations such as fire. The estimations presented here provide a baseline to estimate future changes in soil C stocks and to assess their vulnerability to key global change drivers, and should inform future actions aimed at the conservation and management of C stocks. © 2013 Author(s).

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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

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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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Las poblaciones ibéricas de pino albar ante el cambio climático: con la muerte en los talones.

Martínez-Vilalta J, Aguadé D, Banqué M, Barba J, Curiel Yuste J, Galiano L, Garcia N, Gómez M, Heres; AM, López BC, Lloret F, Poyatos R, Retana J, Sus O, Vayreda J, Vilà-Cabrera A (2012) Las poblaciones ibéricas de pino albar ante el cambio climático: con la muerte en los talones. Ecosistemas 21: 15-21.

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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Structural and climatic determinants of demographic rates of Scots pine forests across the Iberian Peninsula

Vila-Cabrera A., Martinez-Vilalta J., Vayreda J., Retana J. (2011) Structural and climatic determinants of demographic rates of Scots pine forests across the Iberian Peninsula. Ecological Applications. 21: 1162-1172.
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Doi: 10.1890/10-0647.1

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The demographic rates of tree species typically show large spatial variation across their range. Understanding the environmental factors underlying this variation is a key topic in forest ecology, with far-reaching management implications. Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) covers large areas of the Northern Hemisphere, the Iberian Peninsula being its southwestern distribution limit. In recent decades, an increase in severe droughts and a densification of forests as a result of changes in forest uses have occurred in this region. Our aim was to use climate and stand structure data to explain mortality and growth patterns of Scots pine forests across the Iberian Peninsula. We used data from 2392 plots dominated by Scots pine, sampled for the National Forest Inventory of Spain. Plots were sampled from 1986 to 1996 (IFN2) and were resampled from 1997 to 2007 (IFN3), allowing for the calculation of growth and mortality rates. We fitted linear models to assess the response of growth and mortality rates to the spatial variability of climate, climatic anomalies, and forest structure. Over the period of;10 years between the IFN2 and IFN3, the amount of standing dead trees increased 11-fold. Higher mortality rates were related to dryness, and growth was reduced with increasing dryness and temperature, but results also suggested that effects of climatic stressors were not restricted to dry sites only. Forest structure was strongly related to demographic rates, suggesting that stand development and competition are the main factors associated with demography. In the case of mortality, forest structure interacted with climate, suggesting that competition for water resources induces tree mortality in dry sites. A slight negative relationship was found between mortality and growth, indicating that both rates are likely to be affected by the same stress factors. Additionally, regeneration tended to be lower in plots with higher mortality. Taken together, our results suggest a large-scale self-thinning related to the recent densification of Scots pine forests. This process appears to be enhanced by dry conditions and may lead to a mismatch in forest turnover. Forest management may be an essential adaptive tool under the drier conditions predicted by most climate models. © 2011 by the Ecological Society of America.

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Interspecific variation in functional traits, not climatic differences among species ranges, determines demographic rates across 44 temperate and Mediterranean tree species

Martínez-Vilalta J., Mencuccini M., Vayreda J., Retana J. (2010) Interspecific variation in functional traits, not climatic differences among species ranges, determines demographic rates across 44 temperate and Mediterranean tree species. Journal of Ecology. 98: 1462-1475.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01718.x

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Surprisingly little is known about the relationship between functional traits and demographic rates of tree species under field conditions, particularly for non-tropical species. We studied the interspecific relationship between key functional traits (wood density (WD), maximum tree height, specific leaf area, nitrogen (N) content of leaves, leaf size and seed mass), demographic rates (relative growth rate (RGR) and mortality rate (MR)) and climatic niche for the 44 most abundant tree species in Spain. Demographic data were derived from the Spanish Forest Inventory, a repeated-measures scheme including c. 90 000 permanent plots spread over a territory of c. 500 000 km[TD-SUP-OPEN]2. Functional traits data came primarily from a more detailed forest inventory carried out in Catalonia, NE Spain. Our study region covers a wide range of climatic conditions and, not surprisingly, the studied species differed markedly in their climatic niche. Despite that fact, our results showed that the variability in demographic rates across species was much more related to differences in functional traits than to differences in the average climate among species. Maximum tree height and, particularly, WD, emerged as key functional traits, and were the best predictors of demographic rates in our study. These two variables also mediated the marginally significant relationship between RGR and MR, suggestive of a weak trade-off between growth and survival. The main aspects of our results were not altered by the explicit incorporation of phylogenetic effects, suggesting that the observed relationships are not due to divergences between a few major clades. Synthesis. Our study gives support to the notion that variation in functional traits across species allows them to perform largely independently of climatic conditions along environmental gradients. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society.

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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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