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Regeneration of three pine species in a Mediterranean forest: A study to test predictions from species distribution models under changing climates

Tíscar, P.A., Candel-Pérez, D., Estrany, J., Balandier, P., Gómez, R., Lucas-Borja, M.E.
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.584-585 pp. 78-87
prediction, linear models, saplings, irrigation, seedlings, mountains, climate change, forest inventory, seedling emergence, observational studies, spatial variation, stand basal area, Pinus pinaster, biogeography, forests, Spain
The study tested the hypothesis that future changes in the composition of tree communities, as predicted by species distribution models, could already be apparent in the current regeneration patterns of three pine species (Pinus pinaster, P. nigra and P. sylvestris)inhabiting the central-eastern mountains of Spain. We carried out both an observational study and a seed-sowing experiment to analyze, along an altitudinal and latitudinal gradient, whether recent recruitment patterns indicate an expansion of P. pinaster forests to the detriment of P. nigra ones in the low-altitude southern sites of these mountains; or whether P. sylvestris is being replaced by P. nigra in the high-altitude sites from the same area. The observational study gathered data from 561 plots of the Spanish National Forest Inventory. The seed-sowing experiment tested the effects of irrigation and stand basal area on seedling emergence and survival. Data were analyzed by means of Generalized Linear Models and Generalized Linear Mixed Models. Regeneration of the three pine species responded similarly to the explicative factors studied, but the density of tree seedlings and saplings exhibited a wide spatial heterogeneity. This result suggested that a mosaic of site- and species-specific responses to climate change might mislead model projections on the future forest occupancy of tree species. Yet, we found no indications of neither an expansion nor a contraction of the near future forest occupancy of the tree species studied.