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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Climate- and successional-related changes in functional composition of European forests are strongly driven by tree mortality
Author(s): Ruiz-Benito, Paloma
Ratcliffe, Sophia
Zavala, Miguel A
Martínez‐Vilalta, Jordi
Vilà-Cabrera, Albert
Lloret, Francisco
Madrigal‐González, Jaime
Wirth, Christian
Greenwood, Sarah
Kändler, Gerald
Lehtonen, Aleksi
Kattge, Jens
Dahlgren, Jonas
Jump, Alistair S
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Keywords: climate change
demographic rates
functional traits
mixed modelling
national forest inventory
piecewise structural equation modelling
temperature anomaly
tree growth
Issue Date: Oct-2017
Citation: Ruiz-Benito P, Ratcliffe S, Zavala MA, Martínez‐Vilalta J, Vilà-Cabrera A, Lloret F, Madrigal‐González J, Wirth C, Greenwood S, Kändler G, Lehtonen A, Kattge J, Dahlgren J & Jump AS (2017) Climate- and successional-related changes in functional composition of European forests are strongly driven by tree mortality. Global Change Biology, 23 (10), pp. 4162-4176.
Assessing ecosystem recovery after extreme drought-related dieback events
Abstract: Intense droughts combined with increased temperatures are one of the major threats to forest persistence in the 21st century. Despite the direct impact of climate change on forest growth and shifts in species abundance, the effect of altered demography on changes in the composition of functional traits is not well known. We sought to: (1) quantify the recent changes in functional composition of European forests; (2) identify the relative importance of climate change, mean climate and forest development for changes in functional composition; and (3) analyse the roles of tree mortality and growth underlying any functional changes in different forest types. We quantified changes in functional composition from the 1980s to the 2000s across Europe by two dimensions of functional trait variation: the first dimension was mainly related to changes in leaf mass per area and wood density (partially related to the trait differences between angiosperms and gymnosperms), and the second dimension related to changes in maximum tree height. Our results indicate that climate change and mean climatic effects strongly interacted with forest development and it was not possible to completely disentangle their effects. Where recent climate change was not too extreme, the patterns of functional change generally followed the expected patterns under secondary succession (e.g. towards late-successional short-statured hardwoods in Mediterranean forests and taller gymnosperms in boreal forests) and latitudinal gradients (e.g. larger proportion of gymnosperm-like strategies at low water availability in forests formerly dominated by broad-leaved deciduous species). Recent climate change generally favoured the dominance of angiosperm-like related traits under increased temperature and intense droughts. Our results show functional composition changes over relatively short time scales in European forests. These changes are largely determined by tree mortality, which should be further investigated and modelled to adequately predict the impacts of climate change on forest function.
DOI Link: 10.1111/gcb.13728
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ruiz-Benito P, Ratcliffe S, Zavala MA, et al. Climate- and successional-related changes in functional composition of European forests are strongly driven by tree mortality. Glob Change Biol. 2017;23:4162–4176, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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