Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1165–1177 | Cite as

Predicting species dominance shifts across elevation gradients in mountain forests in Greece under a warmer and drier climate

  • Nikolaos M. FyllasEmail author
  • Anastasia Christopoulou
  • Alexandros Galanidis
  • Chrysanthi Z. Michelaki
  • Christos Giannakopoulos
  • Panayiotis G. Dimitrakopoulos
  • Margarita Arianoutsou
  • Manuel Gloor
Original Article


The Mediterranean Basin is expected to face warmer and drier conditions in the future, following projected increases in temperature and declines in precipitation. The aim of this study is to explore how forests dominated by Abies borisii-regis, Abies cephalonica, Fagus sylvatica, Pinus nigra and Quercus frainetto will respond under such conditions. We combined an individual-based model (GREFOS), with a novel tree ring data set in order to constrain tree diameter growth and to account for inter- and intraspecific growth variability. We used wood density data to infer tree longevity, taking into account inter- and intraspecific variability. The model was applied at three 500-m-wide elevation gradients at Taygetos in Peloponnese, at Agrafa on Southern Pindos and at Valia Kalda on Northern Pindos in Greece. Simulations adequately represented species distribution and abundance across the elevation gradients under current climate. We subsequently used the model to estimate species and functional trait shifts under warmer and drier future conditions based on the IPCC A1B scenario. In all three sites, a retreat of less drought-tolerant species and an upward shift of more drought-tolerant species were simulated. These shifts were also associated with changes in two key functional traits, in particular maximum radial growth rate and wood density. Drought-tolerant species presented an increase in their average maximal growth and decrease in their average wood density, in contrast to less drought-tolerant species.


Mediterranean mountainous forests Greece Forest gap models Modelling Drought Climate change Trait plasticity 



We acknowledge the E-OBS data set from the EU-FP6 Project ENSEMBLES ( and the data providers in the ECA&D Project ( This work was financed by the “Mediterranean Forests in Transition/MEDIT” Grant to NF. The research project is implemented within the framework of the Action “Supporting Postdoctoral Researchers” of the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” (Action’s Beneficiary: General Secretariat for Research and Technology) and is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Greek State (PE10 (927)).

Supplementary material

10113_2016_1093_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2269 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikolaos M. Fyllas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anastasia Christopoulou
    • 1
  • Alexandros Galanidis
    • 2
  • Chrysanthi Z. Michelaki
    • 2
  • Christos Giannakopoulos
    • 3
  • Panayiotis G. Dimitrakopoulos
    • 2
  • Margarita Arianoutsou
    • 1
  • Manuel Gloor
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of BiologyNational and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of EnvironmentUniversity of the AegeanMytileneGreece
  3. 3.Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable DevelopmentNational Observatory of AthensAthensGreece
  4. 4.Ecology and Global Change, School of GeographyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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