Climate change could negate positive tree diversity effects on forest productivity: a study across five climate types in Spain and Canada

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Paquette, Alain
Vayreda, Jordi
Coll Mir, LluísColl Mir, Lluís - ORCID ID
Messier, Christian
Retana, Javier
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A positive relationship between tree diversity and forest productivity is reported for many forested biomes of the world. However, whether tree diversity is able to increase the stability of forest growth to changes in climate is still an open question. We addressed this question using 36,378 permanent forest plots from National Forest Inventories of Spain and Québec (Eastern Canada), covering five of the most important climate types where forests grow on Earth and a large temperature and precipitation gradient. The plots were used to compute forest productivity (aboveground woody biomass increment) and functional diversity (based on the functional traits of species). Divergence from normal levels of precipitation (dryer or wetter than 30-year means) and temperature (warmer or colder) were computed for each plot from monthly temperature and precipitation means. Other expected drivers of forest growth were also included. Our results show a significant impact of climate divergences on forest productivity, but not always in the expected direction. Furthermore, although functional trait diversity had a general positive impact on forest productivity under normal conditions, this effect was not maintained in stands having suffered from temperature divergence (i.e., warmer conditions). Contrary to our expectations, we found that tree diversity did not result in more stable forest’s growth conditions during changes in climate. These results could have important implications for the future dynamics and management of mixed forests worldwide under climate change.
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Ecosystems, 2018, vol. 21, p. 960-970