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  1. Abstract

    Trees are pivotal to global biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, yet accelerating global changes threaten global tree diversity, making accurate species extinction risk assessments necessary. To identify species that require expert-based re-evaluation, we assess exposure to change in six anthropogenic threats over the last two decades for 32,090 tree species. We estimated that over half (54.2%) of the assessed species have been exposed to increasing threats. Only 8.7% of these species are considered threatened by the IUCN Red List, whereas they include more than half of the Data Deficient species (57.8%). These findings suggest a substantial underestimation of threats and associated extinction risk for tree species in current assessments. We also map hotspots of tree species exposed to rapidly changing threats around the world. Our data-driven approach can strengthen the efforts going into expert-based IUCN Red List assessments by facilitating prioritization among species for re-evaluation, allowing for more efficient conservation efforts.

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  2. The eastern Andean treeline (EATL) is the world’s longest altitudinal ecotone and plays an important role in biodiversity conservation in the context of land use/cover and climate change. The purpose of this study was to assess to what extent the position of the tropical EATL (9°N–18°S) is in near-equilibrium with the climate, which determines its potential to adapt to climate change. On a continental scale, we have used land cover maps (MODIS MCD12) and elevation data (SRTM) to make the first-order assessment of the EATL position and continuity. For the assessment on a local scale and to address the three-dimensional nature of environmental change in mountainous environments, a novel method of automated delineation and assessment of altitudinal transects was devised and applied to Landsat-based forest maps (GLAD) and fine-resolution climatology (CHELSA). The emergence of a consistent longitudinal gradient of the treeline elevation over half of the EATL extent, which increases towards the equator by ~30 m and ~60 m per geographic degree from the south and north, respectively, serves as a first-order validation of the approach, while the local transects reveal a more nuanced aspect-dependent pattern. We conclude that the applied dual-scale approach with automated mass transect sampling allows for an improved understanding of treeline dynamics. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    One mechanism proposed to explain high species diversity in tropical systems is strong negative conspecific density dependence (CDD), which reduces recruitment of juveniles in proximity to conspecific adult plants. Although evidence shows that plant-specific soil pathogens can drive negative CDD, trees also form key mutualisms with mycorrhizal fungi, which may counteract these effects. Across 43 large-scale forest plots worldwide, we tested whether ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibit weaker negative CDD than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. We further tested for conmycorrhizal density dependence (CMDD) to test for benefit from shared mutualists. We found that the strength of CDD varies systematically with mycorrhizal type, with ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibiting higher sapling densities with increasing adult densities than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. Moreover, we found evidence of positive CMDD for tree species of both mycorrhizal types. Collectively, these findings indicate that mycorrhizal interactions likely play a foundational role in global forest diversity patterns and structure.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. Giesecke, Thomas (Ed.)
  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract It is largely unknown how South America’s Andean forests affect the global carbon cycle, and thus regulate climate change. Here, we measure aboveground carbon dynamics over the past two decades in 119 monitoring plots spanning a range of >3000 m elevation across the subtropical and tropical Andes. Our results show that Andean forests act as strong sinks for aboveground carbon (0.67 ± 0.08 Mg C ha −1 y −1 ) and have a high potential to serve as future carbon refuges. Aboveground carbon dynamics of Andean forests are driven by abiotic and biotic factors, such as climate and size-dependent mortality of trees. The increasing aboveground carbon stocks offset the estimated C emissions due to deforestation between 2003 and 2014, resulting in a net total uptake of 0.027 Pg C y −1 . Reducing deforestation will increase Andean aboveground carbon stocks, facilitate upward species migrations, and allow for recovery of biomass losses due to climate change. 
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  6. null (Ed.)