Research Topic

Drought-induced Forest and Tree Mortality

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Observations of drought-induced forest dieback have increased globally, raising concerns on the effects of climate change on the structure and function of forest ecosystems. Mortality or severe crown defoliation events impact land-atmosphere feedback affect the provision of ecosystem services and have ...

Observations of drought-induced forest dieback have increased globally, raising concerns on the effects of climate change on the structure and function of forest ecosystems. Mortality or severe crown defoliation events impact land-atmosphere feedback affect the provision of ecosystem services and have cascading effects on biodiversity. Critically, forest dieback can impact water and carbon cycles at the global scale and thus feedback on the trajectory of anthropogenic climate change. In recent years, the mechanistic understanding of tree mortality and forest dieback has increased substantially. Yet, scaling those mechanisms at relevant spatial and temporal scales still remains a challenge. This hinders the predictive capacity of models and prevents the design of adequate mitigation strategies to be carried out by forest managers. Therefore, it is urgent to reconcile the achieved mechanistic understanding at the tree and plot-level with the spatial variability in abiotic factors predisposing, inciting and contributing to forest dieback and relevant temporal scales that account for forest history, drought legacies and the life cycles of pathogens.

In this special Research Topic collection, we aim to gather a broad of range observational, experimental and modelling studies that address key aspects of forest dieback and tree mortality, including the role of landscape in determining soil and atmospheric drought, the predisposing effects of forest structure (species composition, tree morphology, stem density, management history) and of the intra- and inter-specific variability of hydraulic strategies and the associated traits, as well as climate on forest dieback triggers at both short and long-term scales (drought legacies). We also welcome studies reporting physiological mechanisms of trees to cope with water stress or new approaches to measure such mechanisms. Several article types such as Original Research, Mini Reviews, Opinions, Hypothesis and Theory and Perspectives are welcome.


Keywords: Drought, Forest decline, Forest Hydrology, Tree mortality, Ecophysiology, Scaling, Dieback, Forest ecosystems, Climate change, Anthropogenic climate change, Mitigation strategies, Forest management, Abiotic factors, Pathogen life-cycle, Carbon cycle, Water


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