Ecological response of tree saplings to simulated climate change along an elevational gradient (CLIMARBRE)

Switzerland will face higher temperature increases than the global average, which will have strong impacts on the mountain ecosystems. How tree species will respond to future climate change scenarios, and what mechanisms will they adopt, remains as a gap of knowledge in ecological research. Foresters will have to make short-term decisions and plan future managements under the great uncertainty of climate change and they demand answers to know if the current species will cope with the predicted climate change and to what extent the ecological goods and services will be affected (e.g. timber industry). The project CLIMARBRE was developed in order to ease and support their decision making by providing an advanced knowledge about the responses of beech and spruce regeneration to simulated climate change (specifically, warmer and drier conditions) in the wooded pastures of the Swiss Jura mountains. This project, which was built on the interface between fundamental research in forestry ecology and applied sciences, should attract the attention of foresters, managers of natural environments and of the general public. By using transplantation along an elevational gradient, in the Jura mountains, “realistic” climate conditions were created to specifically simulated three potential future climatic scenarios from the IPCC (from A1B to A2). This space for time approach enabled the assessment of saplings’ responses to simulated climate change and their acclimation abilities. Saplings adapted to subalpine conditions at 1350 m were collected and transplanted towards lower altitudes exposing them to an average increase of 6.3ᵒC and a reduction in 30% of precipitation, at the lowest site throughout the study period. The main findings include i) a longer growing season due to induced-elevation warming (downward shift) could not fully account for the species-specific positive growth responses; (ii) the contrasting species growth responses were linked to different sensitivities to elevated vapor-pressure deficits; (iii) models could better account for the growth response to warming after incorporating extreme climatic events and their effects; iv) beech leaves showed an increase of xeromorphism through the increase of the cuticle thickness, vein network and smaller stomata, associated, to a higher leaf area v) which allowed it to grow in warmer conditions while coping with an increase of evaporative; vi) and finally, the linkage between responses at tree, leaf, tissue and soil level, through a multiple level approach, improved the mechanistic understanding of these species capacities to respond to simulated climate change.


Advisor(s):
Buttler, Alexandre
Signarbieux, Constant
Year:
2017
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis8021-6
Laboratories:




 Record created 2017-10-09, last modified 2019-10-04

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