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Soil and climate-dependent ingrowth inference: broadleaves on their slow way to conquer Swiss forests
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  • Roman Flury,
  • Jeanne Portier,
  • Brigitte Rohner,
  • Andri Baltensweiler,
  • Katrin Di Bella Meusburger,
  • Daniel Scherrer,
  • Esther Thuerig,
  • Golo Stadelmann
Roman Flury
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Jeanne Portier
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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Brigitte Rohner
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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Andri Baltensweiler
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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Katrin Di Bella Meusburger
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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Daniel Scherrer
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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Esther Thuerig
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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Golo Stadelmann
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL
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Abstract

Forests provide essential ecosystem services that range from the production of timber to the mitigation of natural hazards. Rapid environmental changes, such as climate warming or the intensification of disturbance regimes, threaten forests and endanger forest ecosystem services. In light of these challenges, it is essential to understand forests’ demographic processes of regeneration, growth, and mortality and their relationship with environmental conditions. Specifically, understanding the regeneration process in present-day forests is crucial since it lays the foundation for the structure of future forests and their tree species composition. We used Swiss National Forest Inventory (NFI) data covering vast bio-geographic gradients over four decades to achieve this understanding. Trees that reached a diameter at breast height of 12 cm between two consecutive NFI campaigns were used to determine regeneration and were referred to as ingrowth. Employing three independent statistical models, we investigated the number, species, and diameter of these ingrowth trees. The models were subsequently implemented into a forest simulator to project the development of Swiss forests until the mid-21st century. The simulation results showed a decrease and a shift in the species composition of ingrowth, marked by a significant decrease in Norway spruce (Picea abies) and concurrent increases in broadleaves. Nevertheless, the pace of this change towards a more natural species composition is relatively slow and is likely to slow down even further as ingrowth declines in the future, in contrast to the fast-changing climatic conditions. Hence, support through adaptive planting strategies should be tested in case ingrowth does not ensure the resilience of forests in the future. We conclude that since the regeneration of forests is becoming increasingly challenging, the current level at which ecosystem services are provided might not be ensured in the coming decades.
17 Oct 2023Submitted to Ecography
18 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
18 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
18 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
24 Oct 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned