Batllori E., De Cáceres M., Brotons L., Ackerly D.D., Moritz M.A., Lloret F. (2019) Compound fire-drought regimes promote ecosystem transitions in Mediterranean ecosystems. Journal of Ecology. 107: 1187-1198.LinkDoi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13115
Understanding ecosystem responses to compound disturbance regimes and the influence of specific sequences of events in determining ecosystem shifts remains a challenge. We use a modelling framework for Mediterranean-type ecosystems to assess the effects of fire–drought interactions on long-term vegetation dynamics and to identify disturbance-driven changes in trait composition (tree seeder vs. tree resprouter prevalence) and ecosystem state (forest vs. non-forest). Changes in tree seeder and the tree resprouter dominance show nonlinear, threshold-type trends over gradients of increasing compound disturbance frequency. Vegetation composition thresholds mostly occur in a narrow range of the compound fire–drought disturbance space. Additionally, trait compositional switches and the likelihood of sudden changes in ecosystem state are promoted by fire-drought interactions. Distinct sequences of disturbance events cause vegetation transitions, disrupting ecosystem resilience, even under moderate recurrence of individual disturbances. An extreme drought year followed by one or two large fire events promotes shifts from resprouter- to seeder dominance. Contrastingly, a large crown fire followed by an extreme drought promotes changes from seeder to resprouter dominance. This disturbance sequence is also a mechanism strong enough to trigger sudden shifts in ecosystem state (from forest to non-forest). Synthesis. Thresholds of change in vegetation composition occur over a narrow range of the modelled gradients of compound fire-drought recurrence, and the loss of ecosystem resilience is contingent on particular sequences of disturbance events. Overall, our findings highlight that disturbance interactions define the relative location of tipping points in ecosystem state, and that effects and feedbacks of compound disturbance regimes increase the long-term likelihood of sudden ecosystem shifts and, therefore, uncertainty in predicting vegetation state. © 2018 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2018 British Ecological Society
De Cáceres M., Coll L., Legendre P., Allen R.B., Wiser S.K., Fortin M.-J., Condit R., Hubbell S. (2019) Trajectory analysis in community ecology. Ecological Monographs. : 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1002/ecm.1350
Ecologists have long been interested in how communities change over time. Addressing questions about community dynamics requires ways of representing and comparing the variety of dynamics observed across space. Until now, most analytical frameworks have been based on the comparison of synchronous observations across sites and between repeated surveys. An alternative perspective considers community dynamics as trajectories in a chosen space of community resemblance and utilizes trajectories as objects to be analyzed and compared using their geometry. While methods that take this second perspective exist, for example to test for particular trajectory shapes, there is a need for formal analytical frameworks that fully develop the potential of this approach. By adapting concepts and procedures used for the analysis of spatial trajectories, we present a framework for describing and comparing community trajectories. A key element of our contribution is the means to assess the geometric resemblance between trajectories, which allows users to describe, quantify, and analyze variation in community dynamics. We illustrate the behavior of our framework using simulated data and two spatiotemporal community data sets differing in the community properties of interest (species composition vs. size distribution of individuals). We conclude by evaluating the advantages and limitations of our community trajectory analysis framework, highlighting its broad domain of application and anticipating potential extensions. © 2019 by the Ecological Society of America
De Cáceres M., Martín-Alcón S., González-Olabarria J.R., Coll L. (2019) A general method for the classification of forest stands using species composition and vertical and horizontal structure. Annals of Forest Science. 76: 0-0.LinkDoi: 10.1007/s13595-019-0824-0
Key message: We present a novel approach to define pure- and mixed-forest typologies from the comparison of pairs of forest plots in terms of species identity, diameter, and height of their trees. Context: Forest typologies are useful for many purposes, including forest mapping, assessing habitat quality, studying forest dynamics, or defining sustainable management strategies. Quantitative typologies meant for forestry applications normally focus on horizontal and vertical structure of forest plots as main classification criteria, with species composition often playing a secondary role. The selection of relevant variables is often idiosyncratic and influenced by a priori expectations of the forest types to be distinguished. Aims: We present a general framework to define forest typologies where the dissimilarity between forest stands is assessed using coefficients that integrate the information of species composition with the univariate distribution of tree diameters or heights or the bivariate distribution of tree diameters and heights. Methods: We illustrate our proposal with the classification of forest inventory plots in Catalonia (NE Spain), comparing the results obtained using the bivariate distribution of diameters and heights to those obtained using either tree heights or tree diameters only. Results: The number of subtypes obtained using the tree diameter distribution for the calculation of dissimilarity was often the same as those obtained from the tree height distribution or to those using the bivariate distribution. However, classifications obtained using the three approaches were often different in terms of forest plot membership. Conclusion: The proposed classification framework is particularly suited to define forest typologies from forest inventory data and allows taking advantage of the bivariate distribution of diameters and heights if both variables are measured. It can provide support to the development of typologies in situations where fine-scale variability of topographic, climatic, and legacy management factors leads to fine-scale variation in forest structure and composition, including uneven-aged and mixed stands. © 2019, INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature.
Duane A., Aquilué N., Canelles Q., Morán-Ordoñez A., De Cáceres M., Brotons L. (2019) Adapting prescribed burns to future climate change in Mediterranean landscapes. Science of the Total Environment. 677: 68-83.LinkDoi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.348
Fire regimes are shifting or are expected to do so under global change. Current fire suppression is not able to control all wildfires, and its capability to do so might be compromised under harsher climate conditions. Alternative fire management strategies may allow to counteract predicted fire trends, but we lack quantitative tools to evaluate their potential effectiveness at the landscape scale. Here, we sought to quantify changes in fire regimes induced after the implementation of different fire management strategies. We developed and applied a new version of the model MEDFIRE in Catalonia (Mediterranean region of ~32,000 km 2 in NE Spain). We first projected burnt area from 2016 to 2100 resulting from climate change under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 scenario of HadGEM-CC model and under current fire suppression levels. We then evaluated the impacts of four fire management strategies: ‘Let it burn’, fixed effort of prescribed burning with two different spatial allocations, and adaptive prescribed burning dynamically adjusting efforts according to recent past fires. Results predicted the emergence of novel climates associated with similar barometric configurations to current conditions but with higher temperatures (i.e. hot wind events). These novel climates led to an increase in burnt area, which was partially counteracted by negative fire-vegetation feedbacks. All prescribed burning scenarios decreased the amount of high-intensity fires and extreme fire events. The ‘Let it burn’ strategy, although less costly, was not able to reduce the extent of high-intensity fires. The adaptive prescribed burning scenario resulted in the most cost-efficient strategy. Our results provide quantitative evidence of fire management effectiveness, and bring to light key insights that could guide the design of fire policies fit for future novel climate conditions. We propose adaptive landscape management focused on the reduction of fire negative impacts rather than on the elimination of this disturbance from the system. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
Yao J., Zhang C., De Cáceres M., Legendre P., Zhao X. (2019) Variation in compositional and structural components of community assemblage and its determinants. Journal of Vegetation Science. 30: 257-268.LinkDoi: 10.1111/jvs.12708
Questions: What are the ecological processes that determine the spatial distribution of species and species diversity? Partitioning beta diversity can provide fundamental insights into the processes that determine the spatial variation of species assemblages. However, studying beta diversity is conventionally based only on species composition data, ignoring the structural component of communities. Study site: Temperate mixed broadleaf–conifer forest in Jiaohe, Jilin Province, northeastern China. Methods: We characterized the variation of community assemblages in terms of species composition, size structure, or considering both components. We then employed environmental and spatial variables as explanatory factors to partition the variation in both compositional and structural components of community assemblage and assess the relative contributions of the niche and neutral processes to community assembly. Results: The values of overall beta diversity (BD statistics) and the relative contribution of individual sampling units to beta diversity (LCBD indices) depended on whether the species composition, size structure, or both together had been taken into account. The value of compositional–structural beta diversity was the largest, followed by traditional compositional beta diversity; the smallest was the structural beta diversity. The sites with high contributions to beta diversity (LCBD values) varied among structural and compositional components. The explanatory power of the environmental variables and the spatial variables also varied widely with different components of a community. The combination of environmental and spatial variables explained the highest proportion of variation (43.8%) in the compositional component and explained the lowest proportion of variation (25.4%) in the structural component of community assemblage. Conclusion: Both deterministic and stochastic processes are acting to determine community assemblages in terms of species composition and structure in our temperate forest site. Our study highlights the importance of considering the structural component of forest communities, in addition to compositional data, when studying beta diversity. © 2018 International Association for Vegetation Science
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