Divergence in Forest-Type Response to Climate and Weather: Evidence for Regional Links Between Forest-Type Evenness and Net Primary Productivity

Abstract

Climate change is altering long-term climatic conditions and increasing the magnitude of weather fluctuations. Assessing the consequences of these changes for terrestrial ecosystems requires understanding how different vegetation types respond to climate and weather. This study examined 20 years of regional-scale remotely sensed net primary productivity (NPP) in forests of the northern Lake States to identify how the relationship between NPP and climate or weather differ among forest types, and if NPP patterns are influenced by landscape-scale evenness of forest-type abundance. These results underscore the positive relationship between temperature and NPP. Importantly, these results indicate significant differences among broadly defined forest types in response to both climate and weather. Essentially all weather variables that were strongly related to annual NPP displayed significant differences among forest types, suggesting complementarity in response to environmental fluctuations. In addition, this study found that forest-type evenness (within 8 × 8 km2 areas) is positively related to long-term NPP mean and negatively related to NPP variability, suggesting that NPP in pixels with greater forest-type evenness is both higher and more stable through time. This is landscape- to subcontinental-scale evidence of a relationship between primary productivity and one measure of biological diversity. These results imply that anthropogenic or natural processes that influence the proportional abundance of forest types within landscapes may influence long-term productivity patterns.

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Acknowledgment

I am grateful to Anthony D’Amato, Shawn Fraver, Randy Kolka, Brian Palik and Matt Powers for valuable comments.

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Bradford, J.B. Divergence in Forest-Type Response to Climate and Weather: Evidence for Regional Links Between Forest-Type Evenness and Net Primary Productivity. Ecosystems 14, 975–986 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-011-9460-8

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Keywords

  • net primary productivity
  • climate change
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem function
  • regional analysis
  • remote sensing
  • land management