Annals of Forest Science

, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 161–171 | Cite as

Assessing changes in species distribution from sequential large-scale forest inventories

  • Laura Hernández
  • Isabel Cañellas
  • Iciar Alberdi
  • Iván Torres
  • Fernando Montes
Original Paper



It is assumed that global change is already affecting the composition, structure and distribution of forest ecosystems; however, detailed evidences of altitudinal and latitudinal shifts are still scarce.


To develop a method based on National Forest Inventory (NFI) to assess spatio-temporal changes in species distributions.


We develop an approach based on universal kriging to compare species distribution models from the different NFI cycles and regardless of the differences in the sampling schemes used. Furthermore, a confidence interval approach is used to assess significant changes in species distribution. The approach is applied to some of the southernmost populations of Pinus sylvestris and Fagus sylvatica in the Western Pyrenees over the last 40 years.


An increase of the presence of the two species in the region was observed. Scots pine distribution has shifted about 1.5 km northwards over recent decades, whereas the European beech has extended its distribution southwards by about 2 km. Furthermore, the optimum altitude for both species has risen by about 200 m. As a result, the zone in which the two species coexist has been enlarged.


This approach provides a useful tool to compare NFI data from different sampling schemes, quantifying and testing significant shifts in tree species distribution over recent decades across geographical gradients.


National Forest Inventory Universal kriging Shifts Pinus sylvestris Fagus sylvatica Pyrenees 



The authors wish to thank all the staff that makes possible the development of the NFI but especially Roberto Vallejo, Head of the Spanish National Forest Inventory, and Dr. Aitor Gastón (E.T.I Forestales), for kindly providing access to the full Spanish NFI data sets. The authors thank Adam Collins for the careful English language revision.


This research was supported by the AEG-09-007 agreement from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) and the AGL2010-21153.00.01 project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN). F. Montes held a Ramon y Cajal research grant, financed by the MICINN.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Hernández
    • 1
    • 2
  • Isabel Cañellas
    • 1
    • 3
  • Iciar Alberdi
    • 1
  • Iván Torres
    • 4
  • Fernando Montes
    • 1
  1. 1.INIA-CIFORMadridSpain
  2. 2.E.T.S.I. MontesPolytechnic University of MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Sustainable Forest Management Research InstituteUniversity of Valladolid-INIAPalenciaSpain
  4. 4.UCLM, University of Castilla-La ManchaToledoSpain

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