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  1. Abstract Background

    Climate change is expected to increase fire activity across the circumboreal zone, including central Siberia. However, few studies have quantitatively assessed potential changes in fire regime characteristics, or considered possible spatial variation in the magnitude of change. Moreover, while simulations indicate that changes in climate are likely to drive major shifts in Siberian vegetation, knowledge of future forest dynamics under the joint influence of changes in climate and fire regimes remains largely theoretical. We used the forest landscape model, LANDIS-II, with PnET-Succession and the BFOLDS fire extension to simulate changes in vegetation and fire regime characteristics under four alternative climate scenarios in three 10,000-km2study landscapes distributed across a large latitudinal gradient in lowland central Siberia. We evaluated vegetation change using the fire life history strategies adopted by forest tree species: fire resisters, fire avoiders, and fire endurers.


    Annual burned area, the number of fires per year, fire size, and fire intensity all increased under climate change. The relative increase in fire activity was greatest in the northernmost study landscape, leading to a reduction in the difference in fire rotation period between study landscapes. Although the number of fires per year increased progressively with the magnitude of climate change, meanmore »fire size peaked under mild or moderate climate warming in each of our study landscapes, suggesting that fuel limitations and past fire perimeters will feed back to reduce individual fire extent under extreme warming, relative to less extreme warming scenarios. In the Southern and Mid-taiga landscapes, we observed a major shift from fire resister-dominated forests to forests dominated by broadleaved deciduous fire endurers (BetulaandPopulusgenera) under moderate and extreme climate warming scenarios, likely associated with the substantial increase in fire activity. These changes were accompanied by a major decrease in average cohort age and total vegetation biomass across the simulation landscapes.


    Our results imply that climate change will greatly increase fire activity and reduce spatial heterogeneity in fire regime characteristics across central Siberia. Potential ecological consequences include a widespread shift toward forests dominated by broadleaved deciduous species that employ a fire endurer strategy to persist in an increasingly fire-prone environment.

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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  3. null (Ed.)
    Changes in CO 2 concentration and climate are likely to alter disturbance regimes and competitive outcomes among tree species, which ultimately can result in shifts of species and biome boundaries. Such changes are already evident in high latitude forests, where waterlogged soils produced by topography, surficial geology, and permafrost are an important driver of forest dynamics. Predicting such effects under the novel conditions of the future requires models with direct and mechanistic links of abiotic drivers to growth and competition. We enhanced such a forest landscape model (PnET-Succession in LANDIS-II) to allow simulation of waterlogged soils and their effects on tree growth and competition. We formally tested how these modifications alter water balance on wetland and permafrost sites, and their effect on tree growth and competition. We applied the model to evaluate its promise for mechanistically simulating species range expansion and contraction under climate change across a latitudinal gradient in Siberian Russia. We found that higher emissions scenarios permitted range expansions that were quicker and allowed a greater diversity of invading species, especially at the highest latitudes, and that disturbance hastened range shifts by overcoming the natural inertia of established ecological communities. The primary driver of range advances to themore »north was altered hydrology related to thawing permafrost, followed by temperature effects on growth. Range contractions from the south (extirpations) were slower and less tied to emissions or latitude, and were driven by inability to compete with invaders, or disturbance. An important non-intuitive result was that some extant species were killed off by extreme cold events projected under climate change as greater weather extremes occurred over the next 30 years, and this had important effects on subsequent successional trajectories. The mechanistic linkages between climate and soil water dynamics in this forest landscape model produced tight links between climate inputs, physiology of vegetation, and soils at a monthly time step. The updated modeling system can produce high quality projections of climate impacts on forest species range shifts by accounting for the interacting effects of CO 2 concentration, climate (including longer growing seasons), seed dispersal, disturbance, and soil hydrologic properties.« less