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Gewählte Publikation:

Thom, D; Seidl, R.
(2022): Accelerating Mountain Forest Dynamics in the Alps
ECOSYSTEMS. 2022; 25(3): 603-617. FullText FullText_BOKU

Climate change alters forest development pathways, with consequences for ecosystem services and biodiversity. As the rate of warming increases, ecosystem change is expected to accelerate. However, ecosystem dynamics can have many causes unrelated to climate (for example, disturbance and stand development legacies). The compound effects of multiple drivers remain largely unclear. Here, we assessed forest dynamics over 28 years at Berchtesgaden National Park (BGNP), Germany, quantifying the spatiotemporal patterns and unraveling the drivers of forest change. We analyzed high-density forest inventory data, consisting of three consecutive censuses of 3759 permanent sample plots (132,866 tree records in total). We used semi-variograms to analyze spatial patterns of change, and boosted regression trees to quantify the effect of 30 covariates on changes in nine indicators of forest structure and composition. Over the 28 years investigated, the forests of BGNP were becoming denser, structurally more complex, and more species rich. Changes in forest structure were more pronounced and spatially correlated on the landscape than changes in tree species composition. Change rates of all indicators increased over time, signifying an acceleration of forest dynamics since the 1980s. Legacies and climate were the most important drivers of change, but had diverging impacts. Although forest change accelerated with increasing temperature, high legacy levels typical for late development stages dampened it. We here provide evidence for accelerating forest dynamics in mountain forests of the Alps, with potentially far-reaching consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem processes. We highlight that unmanaged forest development toward old-growth conditions could counteract climate-mediated acceleration of forest change.
Autor*innen der BOKU Wien:
Seidl Rupert
Thom Dominik

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
climate change
forest development
forest dynamics
forest structure
Berchtesgaden National Park
site conditions

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