Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 538401
Title A global climate niche for giant trees
Author(s) Scheffer, Marten; Xu, Chi; Hantson, Stijn; Holmgren, Milena; Los, Sietse O.; Nes, Egbert H. van
Source Global Change Biology 24 (2018)7. - ISSN 1354-1013 - p. 2875 - 2883.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14167
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
WIMEK
PE&RC
Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018
Keyword(s) alternative ecosystem state - canopy height - LiDAR - precipitation temperate rainforest - remote sensing - resilience - threshold - tropical rainforest
Abstract

Rainforests are among the most charismatic as well as the most endangered ecosystems of the world. However, although the effects of climate change on tropical forests resilience is a focus of intense research, the conditions for their equally impressive temperate counterparts remain poorly understood, and it remains unclear whether tropical and temperate rainforests have fundamental similarities or not. Here we use new global data from high precision laser altimetry equipment on satellites to reveal for the first time that across climate zones ‘giant forests’ are a distinct and universal phenomenon, reflected in a separate mode of canopy height (~40 m) worldwide. Occurrence of these giant forests (cutoff height > 25 m) is negatively correlated with variability in rainfall and temperature. We also demonstrate that their distribution is sharply limited to situations with a mean annual precipitation above a threshold of 1,500 mm that is surprisingly universal across tropical and temperate climates. The total area with such precipitation levels is projected to increase by ~4 million km2 globally. Our results thus imply that strategic management could in principle facilitate the expansion of giant forests, securing critically endangered biodiversity as well as carbon storage in selected regions.

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