Publications of the NFI

  • Bouchard E., Searle E.B., Drapeau P., Liang J., Gamarra J.G.P., Abegg M., … Paquette A. (2024) Global patterns and environmental drivers of forest functional composition Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 33(2), 303-324.

    Aim: To determine the relationships between the functional trait composition of forest communities and environmental gradients across scales and biomes and the role of species relative abundances in these relationships.
    Location: Global.
    Time period: Recent.
    Major taxa studied: Trees.
    Methods: We integrated species abundance records from worldwide forest inventories and associated functional traits (wood density, specific leaf area and seed mass) to obtain a data set of 99,953 to 149,285 plots (depending on the trait) spanning all forested continents. We computed community-weighted and unweighted means of trait values for each plot and related them to three broad environmental gradients and their interactions (energy availability, precipitation and soil properties) at two scales (global and biomes).
    Results: Our models explained up to 60% of the variance in trait distribution. At global scale, the energy gradient had the strongest influence on traits. However, within-biome models revealed different relationships among biomes. Notably, the functional composition of tropical forests was more influenced by precipitation and soil properties than energy availability, whereas temperate forests showed the opposite pattern. Depending on the trait studied, response to gradients was more variable and proportionally weaker in boreal forests. Community unweighted means were better predicted than weighted means for almost all models.
    Main conclusions: Worldwide, trees require a large amount of energy (following latitude) to produce dense wood and seeds, while leaves with large surface to weight ratios are concentrated in temperate forests. However, patterns of functional composition within-biome differ from global patterns due to biome specificities such as the presence of conifers or unique combinations of climatic and soil properties. We recommend assessing the sensitivity of tree functional traits to environmental changes in their geographic context. Furthermore, at a given site, the distribution of tree functional traits appears to be driven more by species presence than species abundance.

    DOI: 10.1111/geb.13790

  • Ferretti M., Fischer C., Gessler A., Graham C., Meusburger K., Abegg M., … Shackleton R.T. (2024) Advancing forest inventorying and monitoring Ann. For. Sci. 81(1), 6 (25 pp.).

    Forests are under pressure and going through rapid changes. However, current inventorying and monitoring (IM) programs are often either disjointed, too narrow in their scope and/or do not operate at fine enough temporal resolutions, which may hinder scientific understanding, the timely supply of information, fast decision making, and may result in the sub-optimal use of resources. For these reasons, there is an urgent need for Advanced Forest Inventorying and Monitoring (AIM) programs to (i) achieve expanded relevance (by augmenting data/information across ecosystem properties and trophic levels), (ii) have increased temporal resolution (by tailored data collection frequency), and (iii) make use of technological advances (by incorporating novel tools and technologies). The Advanced Inventorying and Monitoring for Swiss Forests (SwissAIM) initiative was launched in 2020 to address these needs. SwissAIM builds upon the foundation offered by the existing programs (e.g., national forest inventory, long-term forest ecosystem research, biodiversity monitoring). It aims to offer a collaborative and adaptive framework to enable integrated data collection, evaluation, interpretation, analysis, and modeling. Ideally, it will result in a more responsive system with respect to current and predicted biotic/abiotic stressors that will challenge Swiss forests. Developing such a system implies identifying the information needs of different stakeholders (e.g., science, policy, practice), related technical requirements, and governance frameworks. Here, we present (i) the main features of the SwissAIM initiative (vision, scientific questions and variables, governance and engagement), (ii) the main outcomes of the participatory design process (measurements, sampling, and plot design), (iii) the potential transferability of AIM initiatives outside Switzerland (timing, relevance, practicability), and (iv) the key messages that emerged (i.e., need for advancement, integration and transdisciplinarity, statistical underpinning). Since similar needs related to forest inventorying and monitoring are emerging throughout Europe and elsewhere, the objective of this opinion paper is to share our experience and promote a dialog with those interested in developing AIM initiatives in other countries and regions.

    DOI: 10.1186/s13595-023-01220-9