Strong biotic influences on regional patterns of climate regulation services
SourceGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles, 31, 5, (2017), pp. 787-803
Article / Letter to editor
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Leerstoel Wijsgerige ethiek en politieke filosofie
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Climate regulation services from forests are an important leverage in global-change mitigation treaties. Like most ecosystem services, climate regulation is the product of various ecological phenomena with unique spatial features. Elucidating which abiotic and biotic factors relate to spatial patterns of climate regulation services advances our understanding of what underlies climate-mitigation potential and its variation within and across ecosystems. Here we quantify and contrast the statistical relations between climate regulation services (albedo and evapotranspiration, primary productivity, and soil carbon) and abiotic and biotic factors. We focus on 16,955 forest plots in a regional extent across the eastern United States. We find the statistical effects of forest litter and understory carbon on climate regulation services to be as strong as those of temperature-precipitation interactions. These biotic factors likely influence climate regulation through changes in vegetation and canopy density, radiance scattering, and decomposition rates. We also find a moderate relation between leaf nitrogen traits and primary productivity at this regional scale. The statistical relation between climate regulation and temperature-precipitation ranges, seasonality, and climatic thresholds highlights a strong feedback with global climate change. Our assessment suggests the expression of strong biotic influences on climate regulation services at a regional, temperate extent. Biotic homogenization and management practices manipulating forest structure and succession will likely strongly impact climate-mitigation potential. The identity, strength, and direction of primary influences differed for each process involved in climate regulation. Hence, different abiotic and biotic factors are needed to monitor and quantify the full climate-mitigation potential of temperate forest ecosystems.
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