Recently, the latest research result of the College of Forestry entitled “Latitudinal patterns of forest ecosystem stability across spatial scales as affected by biodiversity and environmental heterogeneity” was published in the international top journal of global change industry“Global Change Biology” (Q1, Impact factor: 13.211).
Temporal stability (hereafter “stability”)，that is, the ability of forests to maintain ecosystem functions on long-term basis, especially in the face of environmental change, has gradually become a focus of theoretical and empirical research on forest ecology and management. Climate change poses a variety of serious threats to tree survival, forest growth and sustainability while its impacts differ across the globe, leading to spatial differences in ecosystem functioning. Yet, there is still a lack of knowledge about how the stability of ecosystem functioning varies with latitude. Filling this knowledge gap could provide important insights for more effective designs and management solutions for forested landscapes, especially in the areas most threatened by climate change.
FIGURE 1 Latitudinal gradient affecting forest ecosystem stability
Several studies have reported a decline in ecosystem functioning with latitude, which is in parallel with broad- scale patterns of biodiversity. In contrast, the relationship between the temporal stability of ecosystem functioning and latitude is much less explored. The few existing studies conducted at local scales show that moths at higher latitudes tend to exhibit lower stability and more synchronous species dynamics, and the biodiversity- stability relationship of zooplankton varies with latitude; however, it remains unknown how the multiscale nature of ecosystem stability changes with latitude and which ecological drivers shape this latitudinal pattern.
FIGURE 2 Relationships between environmental drivers and latitude (a–h) and R2 values of linear regression models between predictor variables and stability (i)
Accordingly, the team of forest management teachers of Beijing Forestry University (Team information: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/gGl9im6q-H0JBwZDQq6ruQ) examines the latitudinal patterns of ecosystem stability at the local and regional spatial scale using a natural assembly of forest metacommunities that are distributed over a large temperate forest region, considering a range of potential environmental drivers.
FIGURE 3 Biodiversity-stability relationship across spatial scales
The results show that regional stability (γS) and spatial asynchrony (βS) decreased with latitude (Figure 1a,b,d, p < 0.05), but local stability (αS) was not significantly related to latitude (Figure 1d; p > 0.05). A similar pattern emerges for biodiversity, as α and β diversity also decreased with latitude (Figure 2h). A large number of environmental drivers decreased with increasing latitude, including extreme temperature, mean annual precipitation, mean annual temperature, temperature stability, and vegetation heterogeneity. Only extreme precipitation and precipitation stability increased with latitude (Figure 2a–g). Among the predictors considered, αD and vegetation heterogeneity explained most of γS and αS, while βS is explained by an array of factors (Figure 2i).
FIGURE 4 Effects of geography, biodiversity and environmental drivers on ecosystem stability across spatial scales
As expected from the theory, regional stability was fully explained by local stability and spatial asynchrony (Figures 4a and 5). Spatial asynchrony, environmental heterogeneity and biodiversity decrease with increasing latitude. Environmental heterogeneity is positively associated with biodiversity and spatial asynchrony; however, although climate history, resource conditions and climatic stability are affected by geographical factors, their effects on biodiversity and stability are not significant. Our study provides the first evidence that latitudinal patterns of the temporal stability of naturally assembled forest metacommunities across scales are driven by biodiversity and environmental heterogeneity. Our findings suggest that the preservation of plant biodiversity within and between forest communities and the maintenance of heterogeneous landscapes can be crucial to buffer forest ecosystems at higher latitudes from the faster and more intense negative impacts of climate change in the future.
FIGURE 5 Final piecewise structural equation models exploring the relationships between geography, biodiversity, environmental drivers, and stability across scales
Qiao Xuetao, a doctor candidate from the College of Forestry, is the first author of the paper, and Professor Zhang Chunyu from the same college is the corresponding author. Prof. Thomas Lamy from University of Montpellier, Prof. Shaopeng Wang from Peking University, Prof. Yann Hautier from University of Utrecht, Prof. Hannah J. White from Anglia Ruskin University, Prof. Zhonghui Zhang from Jilin Academy of Forestry, Prof. Klaus von Gadow from University of Gottingen, Professor Zhao Xiuhai, Associate Professor Geng Yan and Associate Professor Zhang Naili from the College of Forestry of BFU participated in the research as well.
This research was supported by the Key Project of National Key Research and Development Plan, and Beijing Forestry University Outstanding Young Talent Cultivation Project.
How to cite this article: Xuetao Qiao; Thomas Lamy; Shaopeng Wang; Yann Hautier; Yan Geng; Hannah J. White; Naili Zhang; Zhonghui Zhang; Chunyu Zhang*; Xiuhai Zhao; Klaus von Gadow (2023). Latitudinal patterns of forest ecosystem stability across spatial scales as affected by biodiversity and environmental heterogeneity. Global Change Biology, 00, 1–14.
Paper link: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16593