Global patterns and climatic controls of forest structural complexity

2021-01-22 | journal article; research paper. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Ehbrecht, Martin, Dominik Seidel, Peter Annighöfer, Holger Kreft, Michael Köhler, Delphine Clara Zemp, Klaus Puettmann et al. "Global patterns and climatic controls of forest structural complexity​." ​Nature Communications ​12, no. 1 (2021): . ​

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Ehbrecht, Martin; Seidel, Dominik; Annighöfer, Peter; Kreft, Holger; Köhler, Michael; Zemp, Delphine Clara; Puettmann, Klaus; Nilus, Reuben; Babweteera, Fred; Willim, Katharina; Stiers, Melissa; Soto, Daniel; Boehmer, Hans Juergen; Fisichelli, Nicholas; Burnett, Michael; Juday, Glenn; Stephens, Scott L.; Ammer, Christian
Abstract The complexity of forest structures plays a crucial role in regulating forest ecosystem functions and strongly influences biodiversity. Yet, knowledge of the global patterns and determinants of forest structural complexity remains scarce. Using a stand structural complexity index based on terrestrial laser scanning, we quantify the structural complexity of boreal, temperate, subtropical and tropical primary forests. We find that the global variation of forest structural complexity is largely explained by annual precipitation and precipitation seasonality (R² = 0.89). Using the structural complexity of primary forests as benchmark, we model the potential structural complexity across biomes and present a global map of the potential structural complexity of the earth´s forest ecoregions. Our analyses reveal distinct latitudinal patterns of forest structure and show that hotspots of high structural complexity coincide with hotspots of plant diversity. Considering the mechanistic underpinnings of forest structural complexity, our results suggest spatially contrasting changes of forest structure with climate change within and across biomes.
Forest structure depends both on extrinsic factors such as climate and on intrinsic properties such as community composition and diversity. Here, the authors use a dataset of stand structural complexity based on LiDAR measurements to build a global map of structural complexity for primary forests, and find that precipitation variables best explain global patterns of forest structural complexity.
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Nature Communications 
Zentrum für Biodiversität und Nachhaltige Landnutzung ; Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Räumliche Strukturen und Digitalisierung von Wäldern ; Abteilung Biodiversität, Makroökologie und Biogeographie ; Abteilung Waldbau und Waldökologie der gemäßigten Zonen 
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (University of Göttingen)



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