Using a Trait-Based Approach to Compare Tree Species Sensitivity to Climate Change Stressors in Eastern Canada and Inform Adaptation Practices

Laura Boisvert-Marsh, Samuel Royer-Tardif, Philippe Nolet, Frédérik Doyon, Isabelle Aubin
2020 Forests  
Despite recent advances in understanding tree species sensitivities to climate change, ecological knowledge on different species remains scattered across disparate sources, precluding their inclusion in vulnerability assessments. Information on potential sensitivities is needed to identify tree species that require consideration, inform changes to current silvicultural practices and prioritize management actions. A trait-based approach was used to overcome some of the challenges involved in
more » ... ssing sensitivity, providing a common framework to facilitate data integration and species comparisons. Focusing on 26 abundant tree species from eastern Canada, we developed a series of trait-based indices that capture a species' ability to cope with three key climate change stressors—increased drought events, shifts in climatically suitable habitat, increased fire intensity and frequency. Ten indices were developed by breaking down species' response to a stressor into its strategies, mechanisms and traits. Species-specific sensitivities varied across climate stressors but also among the various ways a species can cope with a given stressor. Of the 26 species assessed, Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carrière and Abies balsamea (L.) Mill are classified as the most sensitive species across all indices while Acer rubrum L. and Populus spp. are the least sensitive. Information was found for 95% of the trait-species combinations but the quality of available data varies between indices and species. Notably, some traits related to individual-level sensitivity to drought were poorly documented as well as deciduous species found within the temperate biome. We also discuss how our indices compare with other published indices, using drought sensitivity as an example. Finally, we discuss how the information captured by these indices can be used to inform vulnerability assessments and the development of adaptation measures for species with different management requirements under climate change.
doi:10.3390/f11090989 fatcat:onmcbqtnzzgtlhafjst3mr2bi4