Costa Saura, Jose Maria (2016) A Trait-based approach for forest ecology and management: tools for theoretical and applied ecology. Doctoral Thesis.
Global change threats affecting forests require better understanding of mechanisms driving species environmental responses, but also species effects on ecosystems, to identify optimal management strategies for safeguarding the services they provide. Thus, this thesis serves on trait ecology and tools as Species Distribution Modelling, Remote Sensing, and Climate Change Modelling to explore ecological concepts that prove useful for determining specific management actions. Specifically we hypothesised about three main aspects: 1) the capacity of several traits to explain the characteristics of species niche in the Mediterranean; 2) the influence of trait diversity on the temporal stability of forest productivity in Temperate and Boreal zones; and 3) current and future effects of climate on the mean traits of Mediterranean forest communities. Forest inventories from Spain and Quebec (eastern Canada) were used to obtain species distribution and community composition whereas species traits values were retrieved from the literature. Main results showed that: 1) Specific Leaf Area (SLA) can be used to accurately represent species aridity limits in the Mediterranean; 2) trait diversity provides stability in Temperate forests; and 3) climate change may reduce SLA values of forest communities suggesting notable impacts on ecosystem functioning in the Mediterranean. The thesis suggests that management strategies should be based on trait ecology in order to best adapt to global change.
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