Biology Postdoc Tao Zhang and Assistant Professor Jeremy Lichstein published a major paper in Nature on the response of forests to climate change. They examine changes in forest biomass using systematic forest inventories from the 1980s and 2000s across the eastern US, a period in which some regions became drier while others became wetter. They show that shifts in tree species composition amplify the forest biomass response to drought because water stress tends to shift forest composition toward species that are more tolerant to drought but are slower growing. The results of this study have important implications for how climate is affecting forests worldwide. Forests play a key role in global ecosystems by hosting much of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and acting as a net sink for atmospheric carbon.
Link to the paper, which will appear in the April 5 issue of Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature26152
The paper is featured in Nature “News and Views” (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02858-6) and on the UF News website (http://news.ufl.edu/articles/2018/03/drought-induced-changes-in-forest-composition-amplify-effects-of-climate-change-on-carbon-storage.php).