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Title: Expansion of high-latitude deciduous forests driven by interactions between climate warming and fire

Abstract

High-latitude regions have experienced rapid warming in recent decades, and this trend is projected to continue over the twenty-first century. Fire is also projected to increase with warming. We show here, consistent with changes during the Holocene, that changes in twenty-first century climate and fire are likely to alter the composition of Alaskan boreal forests. We hypothesize that competition for nutrients after fire in early succession and for light in late succession in a warmer climate will cause shifts in plant functional type. Consistent with observations, our ecosystem model predicts evergreen conifers to be the current dominant tree type in Alaska. However, under future climate and fire, our analysis suggests the relative dominance of deciduous broadleaf trees nearly doubles, accounting for 58% of the Alaska ecosystem's net primary productivity by 2100, with commensurate declines in contributions from evergreen conifer trees and herbaceous plants. Post-fire deciduous broadleaf tree growth under a future climate is sustained from enhanced microbial nitrogen mineralization caused by warmer soils and deeper active layers, resulting in taller trees that compete more effectively for light. Finally, the expansion of deciduous broadleaf forests will affect the carbon cycle, surface energy fluxes and ecosystem function, thereby modifying important feedbacks withmore » the climate system.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [4]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. Univ. of California, Irvine, CA (United States)
  3. Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB (United States)
  4. Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
OSTI Identifier:
1581360
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Plants
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 2055-0278
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; biogeochemistry; boreal ecology; plant ecology

Citation Formats

Mekonnen, Zelalem A., Riley, William J., Randerson, James T., Grant, Robert F., and Rogers, Brendan M. Expansion of high-latitude deciduous forests driven by interactions between climate warming and fire. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-019-0495-8.
Mekonnen, Zelalem A., Riley, William J., Randerson, James T., Grant, Robert F., & Rogers, Brendan M. Expansion of high-latitude deciduous forests driven by interactions between climate warming and fire. United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-019-0495-8
Mekonnen, Zelalem A., Riley, William J., Randerson, James T., Grant, Robert F., and Rogers, Brendan M. Mon . "Expansion of high-latitude deciduous forests driven by interactions between climate warming and fire". United States. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-019-0495-8. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1581360.
@article{osti_1581360,
title = {Expansion of high-latitude deciduous forests driven by interactions between climate warming and fire},
author = {Mekonnen, Zelalem A. and Riley, William J. and Randerson, James T. and Grant, Robert F. and Rogers, Brendan M.},
abstractNote = {High-latitude regions have experienced rapid warming in recent decades, and this trend is projected to continue over the twenty-first century. Fire is also projected to increase with warming. We show here, consistent with changes during the Holocene, that changes in twenty-first century climate and fire are likely to alter the composition of Alaskan boreal forests. We hypothesize that competition for nutrients after fire in early succession and for light in late succession in a warmer climate will cause shifts in plant functional type. Consistent with observations, our ecosystem model predicts evergreen conifers to be the current dominant tree type in Alaska. However, under future climate and fire, our analysis suggests the relative dominance of deciduous broadleaf trees nearly doubles, accounting for 58% of the Alaska ecosystem's net primary productivity by 2100, with commensurate declines in contributions from evergreen conifer trees and herbaceous plants. Post-fire deciduous broadleaf tree growth under a future climate is sustained from enhanced microbial nitrogen mineralization caused by warmer soils and deeper active layers, resulting in taller trees that compete more effectively for light. Finally, the expansion of deciduous broadleaf forests will affect the carbon cycle, surface energy fluxes and ecosystem function, thereby modifying important feedbacks with the climate system.},
doi = {10.1038/s41477-019-0495-8},
journal = {Nature Plants},
number = 9,
volume = 5,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {8}
}

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