Canadian Forest Service Publications

Using a Trait-Based Approach to Compare Tree Species Sensitivity to Climate Change Stressors in eastern Canada and Inform Adaptation Practices. Boisvert-Marsh, L., Royer-Tardiff, S., Nolet, P., Doyon, F., Aubin, I., Forests 2020, 11, 989

Year: 2020

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 40214

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

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Plain Language Summary

This paper uses a trait based approach to characterise and identify species sensitivities to three potential impacts of climate change - increased drought events, shifts in climatically suitable habitat, increased fire intensity and frequency. How tree species respond to climate change is a complex phenomenon that involves multiple mechanisms operating at different biological, spatial and time scales. Breaking down species responses to these stressors can capture different impacts associated with climate change. Focusing on 26 abundant tree species from eastern Canada, we developed a series of 10 comparative indices that capture a species ability to cope with three key climate change stressors and identify common sensitivities. Based on our assessment, we found that Tsuga canadensis and Abies balsamea ranked as the most sensitive species across indices while Acer rubrum and Populus spp. were the least sensitive. While information was available for most species and traits, traits related to individual level sensitivity to drought were generally poorly documented as well as deciduous species of the temperate forest. We also assess how our indices compare with other published indices using drought sensitivity as an example. These indices can be used by forest practitioners in vulnerability assessments and inform adaptive silvicultural practices in the face of future climate stressors.