Contributions of Insects and Droughts to Growth Decline of Trembling Aspen Mixed Boreal Forest of Western Canada
Global Change Biology
Insects, diseases, fire and drought and other disturbances associated with global climate change contribute to forest decline and mortality in many parts of the world. Forest decline and mortality related to drought or insect outbreaks have been observed in North American aspen forests. However, little research has been done to partition and estimate their relative contributions to growth declines. In this study, we combined tree‐ring width and basal area increment series from 40 trembling aspen (Populus tremuloidesMichx.) sites along a latitudinal gradient (from 52° to 58°N) in western Canada and attempted to investigate the effect of drought and insect outbreaks on growth decline, and simultaneously partition and quantify their relative contributions. Results indicated that the influence of drought on forest decline was stronger than insect outbreaks, although both had significant effects. Furthermore, the influence of drought and insect outbreaks showed spatiotemporal variability. In addition, our data suggest that insect outbreaks could be triggered by warmer early spring temperature instead of drought, implicating that potentially increased insect outbreaks are expected with continued warming springs, which may further exacerbate growth decline and death in North America aspen mixed forests.
Chen, L., J. G. Huang, A. Dawson, L. Zhai, K. J. Stadt, P. G. Comeau, and C. Whitehouse. 2018. Contributions of insects and droughts to growth decline of trembling aspen mixed boreal forest of western Canada. Global change biology 24:655-667.