Contracts and agreements
Project duration: 
Jan 2016 to Dec 2019

Climate change implies raising temperatures and wider climatic variability; that leads to increasing number and intensity of drought episodes. Accordingly, drought-induced mortality and die-off is increasingly reported in many regions, including Europe and Mediterranean Basin. So, parallel with climate change, tree mortality is expected to keep rising in the next future, challenging key ecosystem services provided by forests to society. Forest resilience to climate change will depend on species response to climatic situations such as drought, according to the species autoecological fit the new climatic conditions. Drought-induced episodes of die-off constitute an adequate study system of climate change consequences on terrestrial ecosystem since the advance future scenarios.


The overall goal of this project is to develop a procedure aimed to interpret and predict plant response to climatic variability considering the characterization of species bioclimatic niche. The project will focus on drought-induced die-off episodes affecting forests and shrublands in Europe and America. The procedure involves: (i) niche correlational models (NCMs) characterizing species bioclimatic niche from its regional distribution and climate datasets, (i) measures of population responses to episodic or chronic drought, including post-episode recovery, (iii) evaluation of the congruence between CNMs outputs and demographic responses to drought, (iv) scaling-up the relationship between bioclimatic niche and drought response at community level by comparing species differential performance. A major value of this procedure is the application of models linking spatial patterns of species distribution and climate to processes operating in temporal scales, such as demographic responses to climatic variability. 

Specifically, the objectives are: (1) demonstrate at regional and landscape scales the existence of a correspondence between drought-induced die-off and a diminution of species climatic suitability, considering the contribution of other environmental factors (topography, soil) and the population genetic variability; (2) analyze and model forest dynamics related to die-off episodes, according to the bioclimatic niche of previously dominant species and potentially replacing ones; (3) analyze changes in the overall climatic suitability and the structure of species bioclimatic niche in Mediterranean shrublands subjected to natural episodes and experimental conditions of drought.

The contributions of the project should improve our predictive capacity on the responses of forests and shrublands to new climatic scenarios of increasing aridity. The project will provide a useful tool to comprehensively evaluate species vulnerability at local and regional scales, being the approach firmly based on empirical demographic processes. A strong point of the proposal is the feasibility of its application to other ecological contexts in which climate plays a major role, such as biological invasions, pest and pathogen infections, and facilitation-competence interactions.

  • Bosc de pi roig en decaïment, al Pirineu de Lleida
  • Alzina surerar, a la província de Cadis