Herbivory and seedling establishment in Pyrenean forests: Influence of micro- and meso-habitat factors on browsing pressure

Ameztegui A., Coll L. (2015) Herbivory and seedling establishment in Pyrenean forests: Influence of micro- and meso-habitat factors on browsing pressure. Forest Ecology and Management. 342: 103-111.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2015.01.021

Abstract:

Browsing damage is among the most determinant factors that limit the establishment of tree seedlings in forests. In some areas, this process leads to massive mortalities that can reduce or even completely prevent the regeneration of some tree species. Mediterranean mountain forests have undergone during the last decades important changes in land-uses that have significantly altered the type and abundance of herbivore populations. In this study we assessed the impact of current grazing conditions in forest regeneration using a set of experimental plantations established in the Eastern Pyrenees in areas visited by domestic livestock (cattle and horses) and wild ungulates (mainly roe deer and chamois). We analyzed during 4. years the role of seedling species and size, mesohabitat (elevation and type of forest cover) and microhabitat (herbaceous cover, distance to shrub, and light availability) on the browsing-induced mortality of more than 500 seedlings of Pinus sylvestris, Pinus uncinata, Betula pendula and Abies alba, the most common tree species in the study area. Browsing-induced mortality for the three conifer species was much lower (40%) and depended on both microhabitat - mainly on the distance to protective elements such as shrubs; and mesohabitat, with an interaction between the elevational belt (site) and the type of forest cover (gaps vs. understory). In the subalpine belt, browsing on A. alba and P. uncinata was higher during summer at plots located in the forest understory whereas, during winter, it was higher at plots located in gaps. The study shows that both mesohabitat and microhabitat can exert an effect on the patterns of plant damage by herbivores, providing useful information to adapt forest management in areas particularly exposed to them. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Read more

Modelling the effect of climate-induced changes in recruitment and juvenile growth on mixed-forest dynamics: The case of montane-subalpine Pyrenean ecotones

Ameztegui A., Coll L., Messier C. (2015) Modelling the effect of climate-induced changes in recruitment and juvenile growth on mixed-forest dynamics: The case of montane-subalpine Pyrenean ecotones. Ecological Modelling. 313: 84-93.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.06.029

Abstract:

Most predictive models forecast significant upward displacement of forest species due to increases in temperatures, but not all the species respond in the same way to changes in climate. In temperate or mountain systems, biotic competitive interactions drive species distributions, and responses to climate change will ultimately depend upon productive and demographic processes such as growth, recruitment and mortality. We parameterized and used an individual-based, spatially explicit model of forest dynamics (SORTIE-ND) to investigate the role of species-specific differences in juvenile performance induced by climate change (juvenile growth and recruitment ability) in the dynamics of mixed forests located in the montane-subalpine ecotone of the Pyrenees. We assessed this role for two types of forests composed of three species with differing light requirements and sensitivity to climate change: (1) a mixed forest with two shade-intolerant pines (Pinus uncinata and Pinus sylvestris) and (2) a mixed forest composed by a shade-intolerant pine and a shade-tolerant fir (Abies alba). Our results show that for species with similar light requirements (i.e., both pines), small differences in sapling growth response to climate change can lead to significant differences in future species composition (an increase in P. sylvestris growth of 10% leads to an increase in its abundance from 42% to 50.3%). Conversely, in pine-fir forests, shade-tolerance results more decisive than climate-induced changes in growth in driving the future forest composition. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Read more