Vol15 No.8: 1671-1681
【Title】Rebirth after death: forest succession dynamics in response to climate change on Gongga Mountain, Southwest China
【Author】CHENG Gen-wei1,2; LU Xu-yang1,2*; WANG Xiao-dan1,2; SUN Jian3
【Addresses】1 Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China; 2 Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China; 3 Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
【Corresponding author】LU Xu-yang
【Citation】Cheng GW, Lu XY, Wang XD, Su J (2018) Rebirth after death: forest succession dynamics in response to climate change on Gongga Mountain, Southwest China. Journal of Mountain Science 15(8). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-017-4435-7
【Abstract】Global climate change is having long-term impacts on the geographic distribution of forest species. However, the response of vertical belts of mountain forests to climate change is still little known. The vertical distribution of forest vegetation (vertical vegetation belt) on Gongga Mountain in Southwest China has been monitored for 30 years. The forest alternation of the vertical vegetation belt under different climate conditions was simulated by using a mathematical model GFSM (the Gongga Forest Succession Model). Three possible Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate scenarios (increase of air temperature and precipitation by 1.8°C/5% , 2.8°C/10% and 3.4°C/15% for B1, A1B and A2 scenarios, respectively) were chosen to reflect lower, medium and higher changes of global climate. The vertical belts of mountainous vegetation will shift upward by approximately 300 m, 500 m and 600 m in the B1, A1B and A2 scenarios, respectively, according to the simulated results. Thus, the alpine tree-line will move to a higher altitude. The simulation also demonstrated that, in a changing climate, the shift in the vegetation community will be a slow and extended process characterized by two main phases. During the initial phase, trees of the forest community degrade or die, owing to an inability to adapt to a warmer climate. This results in modest environment for the introduction of opportunistic species, consequently, the vegetation with new dominant tree species becomes predominant in the space vacated by the dead trees at the expense of previously dominated original trees as the succession succeed and climate change advance. Hence, the global climate change would dramatically change forest communities and tree species in mountainous regions because that the new forest community can grow only through the death of the original tree. Results indicated that climate change will cause the change of distribution and composition of forest communities on Gongga Mountain, and this change may enhance as the intensity of climate change increases. As a result, the alternation of death and rebirth would finally result in intensive landscape changes, and may strongly affect the eco-environment of mountainous regions.
【Keywords】Climate change; Forest Succession Model; Forest vegetation; Vertical vegetation belt; Forest succession; Gongga Mountain