Grup de Recerca de Geobotànica i Cartografia de la Vegetació
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PROJECT: Efectos de episodios de sequía en la dinámica y el ensamblaje de comunidades vegetales forestales y arbustivas (SECADIN)

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
Ninot Sugrañes, Josep M..

Effects of drought episodes on community dynamics and assembly of forests and shrublands (SECADIN)

Drought-driven die-off and mortality are likely to induce deep impacts on the structure, functioning and services provided by forests since climatic scenarios project an increase of extreme episodes. Although relevant advances have been obtained on the understanding of the patterns and causes of tree mortality, there is a general lack of knowledge about the potential of these events to induce sudden shifts on forest composition and structure. The project introduces a demographic approach to this question, through the analysis and modelling of the balance between mortality and recruitment of the dominant species in forests and shrublands affected by die-off. The project emphasizes the stabilizing factors contributing to enhance ecosystem inertia, by minimizing mortality and maximizing recruitment. Also, community assembly will be analyzed considering the changes on relative abundance of the whole set of woody species, disentangling the weight of stochastic factors, derived from the species abundance prior to the episode, from environmental filters related to the drought events, evaluated from the biogeographical distribution and functional species traits.

Specifically, our general objectives are (1) to establish a network of forest stations affected by climate-driven die-off, analyzing the regional distribution of the phenomenon; (2) to evaluate forest resilience to extreme drought events of forests and woodlands through the balance between mortality and recruitment; (3) to analyze assembly rules derived from the episodes, by relating the balance between mortality and recruitment with species attributes.

The proposed actions include (i) extensive sampling of recruitment and regeneration in Spanish forests affected by drought-induced die-off in recent years, (ii) characterization of abiotic changes in the physical environment due to tree mortality and defoliation and detailed analysis of regeneration patterns and processes; (iii) analysis of mortality and recruitment patterns for the whole set of species in high diverse plant communities, such as Mediterranean shrublands, that have been affected by extreme drought episodes, and its relationship with species functional traits and biogeographical patterns of distribution.

Research field:
Ecology of plant communities
Grup de Recerca de Geobotànica i Cartografia de la Vegetació
Universitat de Barcelona. Facultat de Biologia
Avinguda Diagonal, 643. 08028 Barcelona
Tel.:934 021 476 - Fax: 934 112 842