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New Phytol. 2015 Nov;208(3):674-83. doi: 10.1111/nph.13477. Epub 2015 Jun 9.

Tree mortality from drought, insects, and their interactions in a changing climate.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 08540, USA.
2
Department of Geography, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, 83844, USA.
3
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, 80305, USA.
4
US Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, Jemez Mountains Field Station, Los Alamos, NM, 87544, USA.
5
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara, CA, 93117, USA.
6
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Logan, UT, 84321, USA.
7
Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT, 59812, USA.
8
Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA.
9
School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85712, USA.
10
Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, Los Alamos National Lab, Los Alamos, NM, 87545, USA.
11
Northern Research Station, US Forest Service, Newtown Square, PA, 19073, USA.
12
Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 53706, USA.
13
Rocky Mountain Research Station, US Forest Service, Ogden, UT, 84401, USA.
14
US Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, 47050 Generals Highway No. 4, Three Rivers, CA, 93271, USA.
15
Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California - Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106, USA.
16
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, 2109, Australia.

Abstract

Climate change is expected to drive increased tree mortality through drought, heat stress, and insect attacks, with manifold impacts on forest ecosystems. Yet, climate-induced tree mortality and biotic disturbance agents are largely absent from process-based ecosystem models. Using data sets from the western USA and associated studies, we present a framework for determining the relative contribution of drought stress, insect attack, and their interactions, which is critical for modeling mortality in future climates. We outline a simple approach that identifies the mechanisms associated with two guilds of insects - bark beetles and defoliators - which are responsible for substantial tree mortality. We then discuss cross-biome patterns of insect-driven tree mortality and draw upon available evidence contrasting the prevalence of insect outbreaks in temperate and tropical regions. We conclude with an overview of tools and promising avenues to address major challenges. Ultimately, a multitrophic approach that captures tree physiology, insect populations, and tree-insect interactions will better inform projections of forest ecosystem responses to climate change.

KEYWORDS:

biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks; carbon cycle; disturbance; dynamic global vegetation model; trophic interactions

PMID:
26058406
DOI:
10.1111/nph.13477
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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