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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Forest microclimate dynamics drive plant responses to warming

Zellweger, Florian; De Frenne, Pieter; Lenoir, Jonathan; Vangansbeke, Pieter; Verheyen, Kris; Bernhardt-Roemermann, Markus; Baeten, Lander; Hedl, Radim; Berki, Imre; Brunet, Jorg; Van Calster, Hans; Chudomelova, Marketa; Decocq, Guillaume; Dirnboeck, Thomas; Durak, Tomasz; Heinken, Thilo; Jaroszewicz, Bogdan; Kopecky, Martin; Malis, Frantisek; Macek, Martin; Malicki, Marek; Naaf, Tobias; Nagel, Thomas A.; Ortmann-Ajkai, Adrienne; Petrik, Petr; Pielech, Remigiusz; Reczynska, Kamila; Schmidt, Wolfgang; Standovar, Tibor; Swierkosz, Krzysztof; Teleki, Balazs; Vild, Ondrej; Wulf, Monika; Coomes, David
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Climate warming is causing a shift in biological communities in favor of warm-affinity species (i.e., thermophilization). Species responses often lag behind climate warming, but the reasons for such lags remain largely unknown. Here, we analyzed multidecadal understory microclimate dynamics in European forests and show that thermophilization and the climatic lag in forest plant communities are primarily controlled by microclimate. Increasing tree canopy cover reduces warming rates inside forests, but loss of canopy cover leads to increased local heat that exacerbates the disequilibrium between community responses and climate change. Reciprocal effects between plants and microclimates are key to understanding the response of forest biodiversity and functioning to climate and land-use changes.

Published in

2020, Volume: 368, number: 6492, pages: 772-775

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land
    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

    Publication identifier


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