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Unexpected Negative Effect of Available Water Capacity Detected on Recent Conifer Forest Growth Trends Across Wide Environmental Gradients

Abstract : National Forest Inventories (NFIs) perform systematic forest surveys across space and time. They are hence powerful tools to understand climate controls on forest growth at wide geographical scales and account for the effects of local abiotic and biotic interactions. To investigate the effects of climate change upon growth dynamics of four major European conifer species along elevation and continentality gradients, we herein provide an original harmonization of the French and Austrian NFI datasets. The growth of Norway spruce, Scots pine, silver fir and European larch over the 1996-2016 period was studied in pure and evenaged plots across different ecological regions. We derived climate-driven growth trends from > 65, 000 radial increment series filtered-out from major biotic and abiotic influences using statistical modeling. We further identified primary environmental drivers of conifer growth by regressing growth trends against regionally-aggregated biotic and abiotic forest attributes. Negative growth trends were observed in continental regions undergoing the most rapid warming and thermal amplitude contraction over the study period. Negative trends were also associated with lower forest structural heterogeneity and, surprisingly, with greater available water capacity. Remarkably, we observed these associations both at the inter-and intraspecies levels, suggesting the universality of these primary growth determinants. Our study shows that harmonized NFI data at the transnational level provide reliable information on climate-growth interactions. Here, greater forest structural complexity and greater water resource limitation were highlighted as drivers of greater forest resilience to climate change at large-scale. This result forms crucial bases to implementing climate-smart forest management.
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Contributor : Clémentine Ols <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 19, 2021 - 11:00:09 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 4:00:17 AM


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Clémentine Ols, Thomas Gschwantner, Klemens Schadauer, Jean-Daniel Bontemps. Unexpected Negative Effect of Available Water Capacity Detected on Recent Conifer Forest Growth Trends Across Wide Environmental Gradients. Ecosystems, Springer Verlag, 2021, ⟨10.1007/s10021-021-00663-3⟩. ⟨hal-03290131⟩



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