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Dispersal limitation drives successional pathways in Central Siberian forests under current and intensified fire regimes

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Tautenhahn,  Susanne
Interdepartmental Max Planck Fellow Group Functional Biogeography, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Jung,  Martin
Global Diagnostic Modelling, Dr. Martin Jung, Department Biogeochemical Integration, Dr. M. Reichstein, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Kattge,  Jens
Interdepartmental Max Planck Fellow Group Functional Biogeography, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Wirth,  Christian
Interdepartmental Max Planck Fellow Group Functional Biogeography, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Tautenhahn, S., Lichstein, J. W., Jung, M., Kattge, J., Bohlman, S. A., Heilmeier, H., et al. (2016). Dispersal limitation drives successional pathways in Central Siberian forests under current and intensified fire regimes. Global Change Biology, 22(6), 2178-2197. doi:10.1111/gcb.13181.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-2FE0-B
Abstract
Fire is a primary driver of boreal forest dynamics. Intensifying fire regimes due to climate change may cause a shift in boreal forest composition towards reduced dominance of conifers and greater abundance of deciduous hardwoods, with potential biogeochemical and biophysical feedbacks to regional and global climate. This shift has already been observed in some North American boreal forests and has been attributed to changes in site conditions. However, it is unknown if the mechanisms controlling fire-induced changes in deciduous hardwood cover are similar among different boreal forests, which differ in the ecological traits of the dominant tree species. To better understand the consequences of intensifying fire regimes in boreal forests, we studied post-fire regeneration in five burns in the Central Siberian dark taiga, a vast but poorly studied boreal region. We combined field measurements, dendrochronological analysis, and seed-source maps derived from high-resolution satellite images to quantify the importance of site conditions (e.g., organic layer depth) versus seed availability in shaping post-fire regeneration. We show that dispersal limitation of evergreen conifers was the main factor determining post- fire regeneration composition and density. Site conditions had significant but weaker effects. We used information on post-fire regeneration to develop a classification scheme for successional pathways, representing the dominance of deciduous hardwoods vs. evergreen conifers at different successional stages. We estimated the spatial distribution of different successional pathways under alternative fire regime scenarios. Under intensified fire regimes, dispersal limitation of evergreen conifers is predicted to become more severe, primarily due to reduced abundance of surviving seed sources within burned areas. Increased dispersal limitation of evergreen conifers, in turn, is predicted to increase the prevalence of successional pathways dominated by deciduous hardwoods. The likely fire-induced shift towards greater deciduous hardwood cover may affect climate-vegetation feedbacks via surface albedo, Bowen ratio, and carbon cycling.