Patterns and drivers of recent disturbances across the temperate forest biome

Andreas Sommerfeld, Cornelius Senf, Brian Buma, Anthony W. D’Amato, Tiphaine Després, Ignacio Díaz-Hormazábal, Shawn Fraver, Lee E. Frelich, Álvaro G. Gutiérrez, Sarah J. Hart, Brian J. Harvey, Hong S. He, Tomáš Hlásny, Andrés Holz, Thomas Kitzberger, Dominik Kulakowski, David Lindenmayer, Akira S. Mori, Jörg Müller, Juan ParitsisGeorge L.W. Perry, Scott L. Stephens, Miroslav Svoboda, Monica G. Turner, Thomas T. Veblen, Rupert Seidl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence indicates that forest disturbances are changing in response to global change, yet local variability in disturbance remains high. We quantified this considerable variability and analyzed whether recent disturbance episodes around the globe were consistently driven by climate, and if human influence modulates patterns of forest disturbance. We combined remote sensing data on recent (2001–2014) disturbances with in-depth local information for 50 protected landscapes and their surroundings across the temperate biome. Disturbance patterns are highly variable, and shaped by variation in disturbance agents and traits of prevailing tree species. However, high disturbance activity is consistently linked to warmer and drier than average conditions across the globe. Disturbances in protected areas are smaller and more complex in shape compared to their surroundings affected by human land use. This signal disappears in areas with high recent natural disturbance activity, underlining the potential of climate-mediated disturbance to transform forest landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4355
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A.S. and R.S. acknowledge support from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) through START grant Y895-B25. C.S. acknowledges funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under REA grant agreement Nr. 605728 (P.R.I.M.E.—Postdoctoral Researchers International Mobility Experience). T. D. acknowledges funding from the Fonds institutionnel de recherche de l’Université du Queb́ ec en Abitibi-Teḿ iscamingue, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Tembec, and EACOM Timber Corporation. Á.G.G. was supported by FONDECYT 11150835. S.J.H. and T.T.V. acknowledge NSF Award 1262687. A.H. was partially supported by NSF (award #1738104). D.K. acknowledges support from the US NSF. D.L. was supported by an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship. A.S.M. was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-14) of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment and by the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (15KK0022). G.L.W.P. acknowledges support from a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund grant. S.L.S. acknowledges funds from the US Joint Fire Sciences Program (project number 14-1-06-22) and UC ANR competitive grants. M.S. and T.H. acknowledges support from the institutional project MSMT CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/ 0000803. M.G.T. acknowledges funding from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Vilas Trust and the US Joint Fire Science Program (project numbers 09-1-06-3, 12-3-01-3, and 16-3-01-4). The study used data from the TRY initiative on plant traits ( The TRY initiative and database is hosted, developed and maintained by J. Kattge and G. Boenisch (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany). TRY is currently supported by Future Earth/bioDISCOVERY and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).


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