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Climate change impact on tree mortality differs with tree social status

Abstract : Changes in temperature and rainfall linked to recent climate change increase the mortality rates of European temperate tree species. The economic importance of trees and the ecosystem services they provide differ according to their social status (dominant or suppressed trees) and their size. The extent to which climate change impacts these different categories in different ways remains little explored. Ecophysiological differences between tree size and status suggest different sensitivities to climate change. Dominant trees are exposed to more evapotranspiration than suppressed trees that benefit from buffered climatic conditions. Large trees are able to develop a network of fine roots that allow deeper water and nutrient uptake during water shortage periods, but that have higher water requirements and more physical constraints than small trees due to the fact that they must lift water to greater heights. We used 207,100 trees from the French forest inventory data (including 3,514 dead trees), representing eight common European tree species. For each species, we separated the tree population into three subsets of suppressed, small dominant and large dominant trees. For each subset, we modelled the mortality observed in a stand in the absence of disturbances (background mortality), with a focus on the differences in sensitivity to recent changes in temperature and rainfall. After having taken the main mortality drivers related to competition into account, as well as stand characteristics including logging intensity effect, we assessed the over-mortality linked to the recent changes in temperature and rainfall for each of the three subsets. When considering both changes in temperature and rainfall, the climate change related to over-mortality was greater for suppressed than for small or large dominant trees, for all the species. Over-mortality of suppressed trees was related to temperature increase, whereas a maximum vulnerability related to rainfall decrease was observed for large dominant trees. Over-mortality driven by climate change not only concerns large and dominant trees, but small and especially suppressed ones as well. These results suggest that in addition to wood production, forest renewal and ecosystem services associated with understorey vegetation are threatened by the recent changes in temperature and rainfall in European temperate forests.
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https://hal-agroparistech.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03256198
Contributor : David Gasparotto <>
Submitted on : Thursday, June 10, 2021 - 10:19:14 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 16, 2021 - 11:12:26 AM

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Adrien Taccoen, Christian Piedallu, Ingrid Seynave, Anne Gégout-Petit, Louis-Michel Nageleisen, et al.. Climate change impact on tree mortality differs with tree social status. Forest Ecology and Management, 2021, 489, pp.1-11. ⟨10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119048⟩. ⟨hal-03256198⟩

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