Forests synchronize their growth in contrasting Eurasian regions in response to climate warming

Edited by William H. Schlesinger, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, and approved December 9, 2015 (received for review July 25, 2015)
January 4, 2016
113 (3) 662-667

Significance

Forests dominate carbon fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. We demonstrate how an intensified climatic influence on tree growth during the last 120 y has increased spatial synchrony in annual ring-width patterns within contrasting (boreal and Mediterranean) Eurasian biomes and on broad spatial scales. Current trends in tree growth synchrony are related to regional changes in climate factors controlling productivity, overriding local and taxonomic imprints on forest carbon dynamics. Enhanced synchrony is becoming a widespread, although regionally dependent, phenomenon related to warmer springs and increased temperature variability in high latitudes and to warmer winters and drier growing seasons in mid-latitudes.

Abstract

Forests play a key role in the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems. One of the main uncertainties in global change predictions lies in how the spatiotemporal dynamics of forest productivity will be affected by climate warming. Here we show an increasing influence of climate on the spatial variability of tree growth during the last 120 y, ultimately leading to unprecedented temporal coherence in ring-width records over wide geographical scales (spatial synchrony). Synchrony in growth patterns across cold-constrained (central Siberia) and drought-constrained (Spain) Eurasian conifer forests have peaked in the early 21st century at subcontinental scales (∼1,000 km). Such enhanced synchrony is similar to that observed in trees co-occurring within a stand. In boreal forests, the combined effects of recent warming and increasing intensity of climate extremes are enhancing synchrony through an earlier start of wood formation and a stronger impact of year-to-year fluctuations of growing-season temperatures on growth. In Mediterranean forests, the impact of warming on synchrony is related mainly to an advanced onset of growth and the strengthening of drought-induced growth limitations. Spatial patterns of enhanced synchrony represent early warning signals of climate change impacts on forest ecosystems at subcontinental scales.

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Acknowledgments

T.A.S. is supported by ERANET-MUNDUS (Euro-Russian Academic Network-Mundus) (European Commission). V.R.d.D. is supported by the Ramón y Cajal Program (Contract RYC-2012-10970). Support for this work was provided by European Union projects ForMAT (Sensitivity of tree growth to climate change and growth modelling from past to future) (Contract ENV4-CT97-0641), ISONET (400 years of annual reconstructions of European climate variability using a high resolution isotopic network) (Contract EV K2-2001-00237), and MILLENNIUM (European climate of the last millennium) (Contract GOCE 017008); the Russian Science Foundation (Project 14-14-00295); the Catalan Government (Project 2014 SGR 1141); Studying Tree Responses to Extreme Events: A Synthesis (STReESS) COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action FP1106; and Spanish Projects CGL2011-26654 and CGL2013-48843-C2-1-R (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness).

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Supporting Information

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Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 113 | No. 3
January 19, 2016
PubMed: 26729860

Classifications

Submission history

Published online: January 4, 2016
Published in issue: January 19, 2016

Keywords

  1. tree rings
  2. spatial synchrony
  3. global warming
  4. boreal forests
  5. Mediterranean forests

Acknowledgments

T.A.S. is supported by ERANET-MUNDUS (Euro-Russian Academic Network-Mundus) (European Commission). V.R.d.D. is supported by the Ramón y Cajal Program (Contract RYC-2012-10970). Support for this work was provided by European Union projects ForMAT (Sensitivity of tree growth to climate change and growth modelling from past to future) (Contract ENV4-CT97-0641), ISONET (400 years of annual reconstructions of European climate variability using a high resolution isotopic network) (Contract EV K2-2001-00237), and MILLENNIUM (European climate of the last millennium) (Contract GOCE 017008); the Russian Science Foundation (Project 14-14-00295); the Catalan Government (Project 2014 SGR 1141); Studying Tree Responses to Extreme Events: A Synthesis (STReESS) COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action FP1106; and Spanish Projects CGL2011-26654 and CGL2013-48843-C2-1-R (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness).

Notes

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

Authors

Affiliations

Tatiana A. Shestakova
Department of Ecology, University of Barcelona, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain;
Emilia Gutiérrez
Department of Ecology, University of Barcelona, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain;
Alexander V. Kirdyanov
Sukachev Institute of Forest, 660036 Krasnoyarsk, Russia;
Math Methods and IT Department, Siberian Federal University, 660041 Krasnoyarsk, Russia;
Jesús Julio Camarero
Pyrenean Institute of Ecology, E-50059 Zaragoza, Spain;
Mar Génova
Department of Natural Systems and Resources, Technical University of Madrid, E-28040 Madrid, Spain;
Anastasia A. Knorre
Sukachev Institute of Forest, 660036 Krasnoyarsk, Russia;
Juan Carlos Linares
Department of Physical, Chemical, and Natural Systems, Pablo de Olavide University, E-41013 Sevilla, Spain;
Department of Crop and Forest Sciences and Agrotecnio Center, University of Lleida, E-25198 Lleida, Spain
Raúl Sánchez-Salguero
Department of Physical, Chemical, and Natural Systems, Pablo de Olavide University, E-41013 Sevilla, Spain;
Jordi Voltas1 [email protected]
Department of Crop and Forest Sciences and Agrotecnio Center, University of Lleida, E-25198 Lleida, Spain

Notes

1
To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email: [email protected].
Author contributions: T.A.S., E.G., and J.V. designed research; T.A.S. and J.V. performed research; E.G., A.V.K., J.J.C., M.G., A.A.K., J.C.L., and R.S.-S. contributed data; T.A.S. and J.V. analyzed data; and T.A.S., E.G., A.V.K., J.J.C., M.G., A.A.K., J.C.L., V.R.d.D., R.S.-S., and J.V. wrote the paper.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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    Forests synchronize their growth in contrasting Eurasian regions in response to climate warming
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 113
    • No. 3
    • pp. 465-E406

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