Get access

Forest plant community changes during 1989-2007 in response to climate warming in the Jura Mountains (France and Switzerland)

Authors

  • J. Lenoir,

    1. AgroParisTech, UMR 1092 AgroParisTech-INRA, Laboratoire d'Etude des Ressources Forêt-Bois (LERFoB), 14 rue Girardet, F-54000 Nancy, France
    2. The Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Århus University, Ny Munkegade 1540, DK-8000 Århus C, Danmark
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J.C. Gégout,

    1. AgroParisTech, UMR 1092 AgroParisTech-INRA, Laboratoire d'Etude des Ressources Forêt-Bois (LERFoB), 14 rue Girardet, F-54000 Nancy, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J.L. Dupouey,

    1. INRA, UMR 1137 EEF, F-54280 Champenoux, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • D. Bert,

    1. INRA, UMR 1202 BIOGECO, F-33610 Cestas, France
    2. Université de Bordeaux, UMR 1202 BIOGECO, F-33610 Cestas, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J.-C. Svenning

    1. The Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Århus University, Ny Munkegade 1540, DK-8000 Århus C, Danmark
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Lenoir, J. (corresponding author, lenoir.john@gmail.com) & Gégout, J.C. (jcgegout@yahoo.fr): AgroParisTech, UMR 1092 AgroParisTech-INRA, Laboratoire d'Etude des Ressources Forêt-Bois (LERFoB), 14 rue Girardet, F-54000 Nancy, France.
    Dupouey, J.L. (dupouey@nancy.inra.fr): INRA, UMR 1137 EEF, F-54280 Champenoux, France.
    Bert, D. (bert@pierroton.inra.fr): INRA, UMR 1202 BIOGECO, F-33610 Cestas, France
    Université de Bordeaux, UMR 1202 BIOGECO, F-33610 Cestas, France.
    Lenoir, J. & Svenning, J.-C. (svenning@biology.au.dk): The Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Århus University, Ny Munkegade 1540, DK-8000 Århus C, Danmark.

  • Co-ordinating Editor: Dr. Bryan Foster.

Abstract

Question: How strong are climate warming-driven changes within mid-elevation forest communities? Observations of plant community change within temperate mountain forest ecosystems in response to recent warming are scarce in comparison to high-elevation alpine and nival ecosystems, perhaps reflecting the confounding influence of forest stand dynamics.

Location: Jura Mountains (France and Switzerland).

Methods: We assessed changes in plant community composition by surveying 154 Abies alba forest vegetation relevés (550-1,350 m a.s.l.) in 1989 and 2007. Over this period, temperatures increased while precipitation did not change. Correspondence analysis (CA) and ecological indicator values were used to measure changes in plant community composition. Relevés in even- and uneven-aged stands were analysed separately to determine the influence of forest stand dynamics. We also analysed changes in species distribution to detect shifts along the elevation gradient by focusing on the lowest, central and highest positions of lowland and mountain species altitudinal ranges.

Results: We found significant shifts along the first CA axis, which reflected a change in plant community composition towards a greater frequency of lowland species. Analyses of ecological indicator values indicated increases in temperature and light availability in A. alba stands, particularly in even-aged stands. However, no major changes in overall species distribution were found.

Conclusions: The community-level changes are consistent with effects of climate warming and local stand dynamics. Changes in species distribution were small in comparison to observed local temperature increases, perhaps reflecting dispersal limitation, phenotypic plasticity or microclimatic buffering by the tree canopy. Causality cannot rigorously be inferred from such a descriptive study; however, we suggest that recent warming is now driving plant community change in the climatically more moderate mid-elevation forest setting.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary