VULNERABILITY AND RESILIENCE OF MATURE FORESTS TO CLIMATE CHANGE: IMPLICATIONS FOR FOREST MANAGEMENT IN NATIONAL PARKS
Funding Entity: MITECO
Principal Investigator: Jesús Julio Camarero Martínez, IPE-CSIC
IRNASA Participants: Mariano Igual Arroyo
Duration: 11/12/2019 -11/12/2022
The conservation of the forest ecosystems they contain is one of the objectives of the National Parks. However, the natural dynamics of the forests entail changes in their diversity, structure and ecological processes as the forest mass goes through different stages of development. Anthropic activity has shaped many of the mountain forests with varying degrees of intensity before the creation of the national parks.
As forest resources cease to be exploited, forest stands age, which can lead to changes in forest structure and dynamics. In addition, the ageing of stands can affect the reproductive capacity of forest species, endangering their persistence. In many cases, the ageing process leads to decay phenomena and changes in the diversity of tree species, understorey, fungal and pathogen communities that will affect the resilience of forests to extreme climatic events such as droughts.
The aim of this project is to analyse the structural, functional and compositional changes in mature forests in mountain national parks in order to predict their evolution in different management and climate change scenarios. In this way it will be possible to define management and conservation strategies for those forests whose stability may be affected in the medium term.
For this purpose, the resilience of the main tree species to extreme climatic events (droughts) will be analysed at tree and stand level by means of dendrochronology and the forest structure will be characterised by means of field sampling and using the ForeStereo device based on stereoscopic images.
To analyze ontogenetic changes in vulnerability to water stress, the Huber value will be used, estimating the conductive surface from dendrochronological samples and the leaf surface from ForeStereo images. Mass dynamics will also be analysed from Landsat images and dendroecological data. The effects of ageing on reproductive potential and progeny viability are also studied.
Finally, the relationship between plant and fungal functional diversity will be analysed, considering the resistance to pathogens in mature forests as a function of stand composition and age. This holistic view of forest dynamics focusing on the resilience of mature forests will allow to characterize them and improve their conservation through projections of their evolution under different management and climate scenarios.