C4: REACTION OF FOREST ECOSYSTEMS TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Patronage: Lucia Puttrich, Hesse´s State Minister of Environment, Energy, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

Current climate change scenarios for Central Europe project more extreme seasons and weather events during the next 50-100 years. Very hot and dry summers are likely to alternate with cool and humid summers. Communities and individual organisms, especially long-lived trees, will have to adapt to the predicted climate change. One approach to ensure future silvicultural landuse of climatically threatened areas is the propagation of Mediterranean tree species. We study short term ecophysiological adaptation (acclimation) of Mediterranean oak species to current central European climate events, including summer drought and winter frost. To understand some of the ecosystem responses to new tree species compositions in Central European forests we also analyse soil invertebrates, which accompany the trees. In a separate study we look at the potential interplay between leaf-associated microbial communities (filamentous fungi) and local adaptation of balsam poplar, by analyzing metabarcodes of environmental fungal communities on different host tree populations. Together, these studies will advance our understanding of climate effects on individual organisms and communities in the forest ecosystem.

Partners in these projects are Hessen-Forst, Nordwestdeutsche Forstliche Versuchsanstalt (NW-FVA, Göttingen), the Hessische Landesamt für Umwelt und Geologie (HLUG, Wiesbaden), ECT Ökotoxikologie GmbH (Flörsheim), the Cities of Frankfurt and Rüsselsheim, the University of Minnesota and the University of Alaska. We established oak plantations near Rüsselsheim (since 2008), Lampertheim (since 2009) and in Frankfurter Stadtwald (since 2010) as well as an experimental plantation at the Goethe University.

Projects