About this Research Topic
Tree performance is shaped by a wide spectrum of functional traits, including foliar, wood, tree architectural, and phenological characteristics. These functional traits are impacted by environmental shifts, due to changing climate conditions involving higher temperatures, higher frequency of heat waves, droughts and forest fires, changing periodicity of rainfall, and rising CO2. The result of these changes affects individual tree performance, resulting in changed vital rates of populations and eventually altering the floristic composition of forests.
Due to the relationships between traits, the performance of trees and the subsequent influence on forest structure and functions, traits are used as input variables for some of the dynamic global vegetation models supporting international policy on climate change. A good understanding of the relationships between traits, vital rates, and environmental filtering of community assemblies depends on solid data, both collected in forest plots and measured on relevant tree organs.
While the relationship between tree performance, vital rates of populations and composition of forest communities is unmistakable in general, empirical evidence is still needed for better predictions of population dynamics and forest tree species assemblies. Data-supported clarifications on which traits influence which vital rates are needed. The principal vital rates (regeneration/recruitment; individual growth; survival/mortality) can be studied in isolation to detect mechanistic relationships with certain traits. Alternatively, traits can be seen as mutually interacting. A key topic is the within-species variability of traits, resulting both from environmental and genetic drivers. Especially for long-standing species, another source of variability that is often neglected are the effects of size and ontogeny. Tree size, understood as a result of both primary and secondary growth, substantially effects the trait spectrum which often shows an age or size trend. Disentangling ontogeny and environment is, therefore, challenging. At the same time long-lasting plants offer appealing opportunities to construct time series based on pith-to-bark profiles of wood traits such as density, vessel features and other anatomical characteristics. This adds a dendrochronological dimension to the topic of traits and vital rates.
We welcome contributions along the following specific themes, among others: (1) mechanistic relationships between traits and vital rates in isolation, (2) within species variability of traits, (3) time series of traits, (4) quantification of vital rates in different biomes.
Keywords: Shifting Tree Flora, Tree Performance, Forest Regneration, Tree Growth, Tree Mortality
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