Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 126, Issue 4, pp 447–460 | Cite as

Experimental warming studies on tree species and forest ecosystems: a literature review

  • Haegeun Chung
  • Hiroyuki Muraoka
  • Masahiro Nakamura
  • Saerom Han
  • Onno Muller
  • Yowhan SonEmail author
Current Topics in Plant Research


Temperature affects a cascade of ecological processes and functions of forests. With future higher global temperatures being inevitable it is critical to understand and predict how forest ecosystems and tree species will respond. This paper reviews experimental warming studies in boreal and temperate forests or tree species beyond the direct effects of higher temperature on plant ecophysiology by scaling up to forest level responses and considering the indirect effects of higher temperature. In direct response to higher temperature (1) leaves emerged earlier and senesced later, resulting in a longer growing season (2) the abundance of herbivorous insects increased and their performance was enhanced and (3) soil nitrogen mineralization and leaf litter decomposition were accelerated. Besides these generalizations across species, plant ecophysiological traits were highly species-specific. Moreover, we showed that the effect of temperature on photosynthesis is strongly dependent on the position of the leaf or plant within the forest (canopy or understory) and the time of the year. Indirect effects of higher temperature included among others higher carbon storage in trees due to increased soil nitrogen availability and changes in insect performance due to alterations in plant ecophysiological traits. Unfortunately only a few studies extrapolated results to forest ecosystem level and considered the indirect effects of higher temperature. Thus more intensive, long-term studies are needed to further confirm the emerging trends shown in this review. Experimental warming studies provide us with a useful tool to examine the cascade of ecological processes in forest ecosystems that will change with future higher temperature.


Climate change Forest ecosystem Global warming Insect–plant interaction Nitrogen cycling Plant phenology 



This work was supported by the “National Research Foundation of Korea (2010-0014620)”, “Korea Forest Service (S111112L030100)”, “Korea University (2013)”, “JSPS Funding Program for Next Generation World-Leading Researchers (NEXT Program)”, “JSPS-NRF-NSFC A3 Foresight Program”, and the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-9-3) and Global Environment Research Fund (D-0909) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. HM thanks Taku M. Saitoh (Gifu University) for information of predicted changes in temperature and precipitation in central Japan.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haegeun Chung
    • 1
  • Hiroyuki Muraoka
    • 2
  • Masahiro Nakamura
    • 3
  • Saerom Han
    • 4
  • Onno Muller
    • 5
    • 6
  • Yowhan Son
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental EngineeringKonkuk UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Institute for Basin Ecosystem StudiesGifu UniversityGifuJapan
  3. 3.Nakagawa Research Station, Field Science Center for Northern BiosphereHokkaido UniversityNakagawaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Science and Ecological EngineeringGraduate School, Korea UniversitySeoulKorea
  5. 5.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  6. 6.Tomakomai Research Station, Field Science Center for Northern BiosphereHokkaido UniversityTomakomaiJapan

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