Past and future evolution of Abies alba forests in Europe - comparison of a dynamic vegetation model with palaeo data and observations

Ruosch, Melanie; Spahni, Renato; Joos, Fortunat; Henne, Paul Daniel; van der Knaap, Willem Oscar; Tinner, Willy (2016). Past and future evolution of Abies alba forests in Europe - comparison of a dynamic vegetation model with palaeo data and observations. Global Change Biology, 22(2), pp. 727-740. Blackwell Science 10.1111/gcb.13075

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Information on how species distributions and ecosystem services are impacted by anthropogenic climate change is important for adaptation planning. Palaeo data suggest that Abies alba formed forests under significantly warmer-than-present conditions in Europe and might be a native substitute for widespread drought-sensitive temperate and boreal tree species such as beech (Fagus sylvatica) and spruce (Picea abies) under future global warming conditions. Here, we combine pollen and macrofossil data, modern observations, and results from transient simulations with the LPX-Bern dynamic global vegetation model to assess past and future distributions of A. alba in Europe. LPX-Bern is forced with climate anomalies from a run over the past 21 000 years with the Community Earth System Model, modern climatology, and with 21st-century multimodel ensemble results for the high-emission RCP8.5 and the stringent mitigation RCP2.6 pathway. The simulated distribution for present climate encompasses the modern range of A. alba, with the model exceeding the present distribution in north-western and southern Europe. Mid-Holocene pollen data and model results agree for southern Europe, suggesting that at present, human impacts suppress the distribution in southern Europe. Pollen and model results both show range expansion starting during the Bølling–Allerød warm period, interrupted by the Younger Dryas cold, and resuming during the Holocene. The distribution of A. alba expands to the north-east in all future scenarios, whereas the potential (currently unrealized) range would be substantially reduced in southern Europe under RCP8.5. A. alba maintains its current range in central Europe despite competition by other thermophilous tree species. Our combined palaeoecological and model evidence suggest that A. alba may ensure important ecosystem services including stand and slope stability, infrastructure protection, and carbon sequestration under significantly warmer-than-present conditions in central Europe.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

Graduate School:

Graduate School of Climate Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Ruosch, Melanie; Spahni, Renato; Joos, Fortunat; Henne, Paul Daniel; van der Knaap, Willem Oscar and Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

1354-1013

Publisher:

Blackwell Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Doris Rätz

Date Deposited:

03 Mar 2016 16:25

Last Modified:

03 Mar 2016 16:25

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/gcb.13075

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.76207

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/76207

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