Climate change-associated trends in net biomass change are age dependent in western boreal forests of Canada

Han Y.H. Chen, Yong Luo, Peter B. Reich, Eric B. Searle, Shekhar R. Biswas

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

The impacts of climate change on forest net biomass change are poorly understood but critical for predicting forest's contribution to the global carbon cycle. Recent studies show climate change-associated net biomass declines in mature forest plots. The representativeness of these plots for regional forests, however, remains uncertain because we lack an assessment of whether climate change impacts differ with forest age. Using data from plots of varying ages from 17 to 210 years, monitored from 1958 to 2011 in western Canada, we found that climate change has little effect on net biomass change in forests ≤ 40 years of age due to increased growth offsetting increased mortality, but has led to large decreases in older forests due to increased mortality accompanying little growth gain. Our analysis highlights the need to incorporate forest age profiles in examining past and projecting future forest responses to climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1150-1158
Number of pages9
JournalEcology letters
Volume19
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • global warming
  • growth
  • net biomass change
  • tree mortality

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