CO2 fertilization, transpiration deficit and vegetation period drive the response of mixed broadleaved forests to a changing climate in Wallonia

Key message
The change in forest productivity was simulated in six stands in Wallonia (Belgium) following different climate scenarios using a process-based and spatially explicit tree growth model. Simulations revealed a strong and positive impact of the CO 2 fertilization while the negative effect of the transpiration deficit was compensated by longer vegetation periods. The site modulated significantly the forest productivity, mainly through the stand and soil characteristics.

Context Forest net primary production (NPP) reflects forest vitality and is likely to be affected by climate change.
Aims Simulating the impact of changing environmental conditions on NPP and two of its main drivers (transpiration deficit and vegetation period) in six Belgian stands and decomposing the site effect.
Methods Based on the tree growth model HETEROFOR, simulations were performed for each stand between 2011 and 2100 using three climate scenarios and two CO2 modalities (constant vs time dependent). Then, the climate conditions, soils and stands were interchanged to decompose the site effect in these three components.
Results In a changing climate with constant atmospheric CO2, NPP values remained constant due to a compensation of the negative effect of increased transpiration deficit by a positive impact of longer vegetation periods. With time-dependent atmospheric CO2, NPP substantially increased, especially for the scenarios with higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For both atmospheric CO2 modalities, the site characteristics modulated the temporal trends and accounted in total for 56 to 73% of the variability.
Conclusion Long-term changes in NPP were primarily driven by CO2 fertilization, reinforced transpiration deficit, longer vegetation periods and the site characteristics.

Net primary production, Water stress, Vegetation period, Process-based modelling, Climate change, Climate projections, Site effect

de Wergifosse, L., André, F., Goosse, H. et al. CO2 fertilization, transpiration deficit and vegetation period drive the response of mixed broadleaved forests to a changing climate in Wallonia. Annals of Forest Science 77, 70 (2020).

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Data availability
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the Zenodo repository and citable (de Wergifosse et al. 2020b).

Handling Editor
Céline Meredieu

Topical Collection
This article is part of the Topical Collection “Mensuration and modelling for forestry in a changing environment

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