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Combining contemporary and palaeoecological perspectives for estimating forest resilience

Combining contemporary and palaeoecological perspectives for estimating forest resilience
Combining contemporary and palaeoecological perspectives for estimating forest resilience
In the face of dramatic climate change and human pressure acting on remaining forest areas across tropical, temperate and boreal biomes, there has emerged a coordinated effort to identify and protect forests that are currently considered “intact”. These forests are hypothesized to be more resilient to future abiotic perturbations than fragmented or degraded forests, and therefore, will provide more reliable carbon storage and/or biodiversity services into an uncertain future. Research in the fields of contemporary and paleoecology can offer valuable insights to enhance our ability to assess resilience of forests and whether these would be comparable across forest biomes. Contemporary ecological monitoring has been able to capture processes acting over the short-to-medium term, while paleoecological methods allow us to derive insights of the long-term processes affecting forest dynamics. Recent efforts to both identify intact forests, based on area definitions, and assess vegetation climate sensitivity globally have relied on satellite imagery analysis for the time period 2000–2013. In this paper, we compare these published datasets and do find that on average intact forests in boreal and tropical biomes are less sensitive to temperature and water availability, respectively; however, the patterns are less clear within biomes (e.g., across continents). By taking a longer perspective, through paleoecology, we present several studies that show a range of forest responses to past climatic and human disturbance, suggesting that short-term trends may not be reliable predictors of long-term resilience. We highlight that few contemporary and paleoecology studies have considered forest area when assessing resilience and those that have did find that smaller forest areas exhibited greater dynamism in species composition, which could be a proxy for declining resilience. Climatic conditions in the Anthropocene will be pushing forest systems across biomes into novel climates very rapidly and with current knowledge it is difficult to predict how forests will react in the immediate term, which is the most relevant timeframe for global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
2624-893X
Morel, Alexandra
6d65fbc5-bf20-45f9-8cb8-ded9491fa84b
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Morel, Alexandra
6d65fbc5-bf20-45f9-8cb8-ded9491fa84b
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034

Morel, Alexandra and Nogué, Sandra (2019) Combining contemporary and palaeoecological perspectives for estimating forest resilience. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. (doi:10.3389/ffgc.2019.00057).

Record type: Article

Abstract

In the face of dramatic climate change and human pressure acting on remaining forest areas across tropical, temperate and boreal biomes, there has emerged a coordinated effort to identify and protect forests that are currently considered “intact”. These forests are hypothesized to be more resilient to future abiotic perturbations than fragmented or degraded forests, and therefore, will provide more reliable carbon storage and/or biodiversity services into an uncertain future. Research in the fields of contemporary and paleoecology can offer valuable insights to enhance our ability to assess resilience of forests and whether these would be comparable across forest biomes. Contemporary ecological monitoring has been able to capture processes acting over the short-to-medium term, while paleoecological methods allow us to derive insights of the long-term processes affecting forest dynamics. Recent efforts to both identify intact forests, based on area definitions, and assess vegetation climate sensitivity globally have relied on satellite imagery analysis for the time period 2000–2013. In this paper, we compare these published datasets and do find that on average intact forests in boreal and tropical biomes are less sensitive to temperature and water availability, respectively; however, the patterns are less clear within biomes (e.g., across continents). By taking a longer perspective, through paleoecology, we present several studies that show a range of forest responses to past climatic and human disturbance, suggesting that short-term trends may not be reliable predictors of long-term resilience. We highlight that few contemporary and paleoecology studies have considered forest area when assessing resilience and those that have did find that smaller forest areas exhibited greater dynamism in species composition, which could be a proxy for declining resilience. Climatic conditions in the Anthropocene will be pushing forest systems across biomes into novel climates very rapidly and with current knowledge it is difficult to predict how forests will react in the immediate term, which is the most relevant timeframe for global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

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Accepted/In Press date: 5 September 2019
Published date: 26 September 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 436279
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/436279
ISSN: 2624-893X
PURE UUID: 0a585057-6528-42fe-a7ca-83b0d2a1980a
ORCID for Sandra Nogué: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0093-4252

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Date deposited: 05 Dec 2019 17:30
Last modified: 22 Nov 2021 03:09

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Contributors

Author: Alexandra Morel
Author: Sandra Nogué ORCID iD

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