Climate drives modeled forest carbon cycling resistance and resilience in the Upper Great Lakes Region, USA

TitleClimate drives modeled forest carbon cycling resistance and resilience in the Upper Great Lakes Region, USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsDorheim K, Gough CM, Haber L, Mathes KC
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Date PublishedAug-12-2021

Forests dominate the global terrestrial carbon budget, but their ability to continue doing so in the face of a changing climate is uncertain. A key uncertainty is how forests will respond to (resistance) and recover from (resilience) rising levels of disturbance of varying intensities. This knowledge gap can optimally be addressed by integrating manipulative field experiments with ecophysiological modeling. We used the Ecosystem Demography-2.2 (ED-2.2) model to project carbon fluxes for a northern temperate deciduous forest subjected to a real-world disturbance severity manipulation experiment. ED-2.2 was run for 150 years, starting from near bare ground in 1900 (approximating the clear-cut conditions at the time), and subjected to three disturbance treatments under an ensemble of climate conditions. Both disturbance severity and climate strongly affected carbon fluxes such as gross primary production (GPP), and interacted with one another. We then calculated resistance and resilience, two dimensions of ecosystem stability. Modeled GPP exhibited a two-fold decrease in mean resistance across disturbance severities of 45%, 65%, and 85% mortality; conversely, resilience increased by a factor of two with increasing disturbance severity. This pattern held for net primary production and net ecosystem production, indicating a trade-off in which greater initial declines were followed by faster recovery. Notably, however, heterotrophic respiration responded more slowly to disturbance, and its highly variable response was affected by different drivers. This work provides insight into how future conditions might affect the functional stability of mature forests in this region under ongoing climate change and changing disturbance regimes.

Short TitleJ Geophys Res Biogeosci