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Climate change threatens the provisioning of forest ecosystem services and biodiversity (ESB). The climate sensitivity of ESB may vary with forest development from young to old-growth conditions as structure and composition shift over time and space. This study addresses knowledge gaps hindering implementation of adaptive forest management strategies to sustain ESB. We focused on a number of ESB indicators to (i) analyze associations among carbon storage, timber growth rate, and species richness along a forest development gradient, (ii) test the sensitivity of these associations to climatic changes, and (iii) identify hotspots of climate sensitivity across the boreal-temperate forests of eastern North America. From pre-existing databases and literature, we compiled a unique dataset of 18,507 forest plots. We used a full Bayesian framework to quantify responses of nine ESB indicators. The Bayesian models were used to assess the sensitivity of these indicators and their associations to projected increases in temperature and precipitation. We found the strongest association among the investigated ESB indicators in old forests (> 170 years). These forests simultaneously support high levels of carbon storage, timber growth, and species richness. Older forests also exhibit low climate sensitivity of associations among ESB indicators as compared to younger forests. While regions with a currently low combined ESB performance benefitted from climate change, regions with a high ESB performance were particularly vulnerable to climate change. In particular, climate sensitivity was highest east and southeast of the Great Lakes, signaling potential priority areas for adaptive management. Our findings suggest that strategies aimed at enhancing the representation of older forest conditions at landscape scales will help sustain ecosystem services and biodiversity in a changing world. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Global change biology
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A type of climate characterized by insufficient moisture to support appreciable plant life. It is a climate of extreme aridity, usually of extreme heat, and of negligible rainfall. (From McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed)
Any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). It may result from natural factors such as changes in the sun's intensity, natural processes within the climate system such as changes in ocean circulation, or human activities.
A climate characterized by COLD TEMPERATURE for a majority of the time during the year.
An animal or plant species in danger of extinction. Causes can include human activity, changing climate, or change in predator/prey ratios.
A climate which is typical of equatorial and tropical regions, i.e., one with continually high temperatures with considerable precipitation, at least during part of the year. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed)