Vegetation community changes in European woodlands amid a changing climate: a palaeoecological modelling perspective

Webb, Julia C ORCID: 0000-0002-1652-965X and Goodenough, Anne E ORCID: 0000-0002-7662-6670 (2021) Vegetation community changes in European woodlands amid a changing climate: a palaeoecological modelling perspective. (Submitted)

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Climate has an important role in shaping the composition and structure of woodlands. There is considerable uncertainty regarding how woodlands will respond to climate change over the next hundred years. To better understand likely responses to contemporary climate change, this paper analyses taxonomic richness, evenness and community similarity in palaeoecological data from 31 European woodlands during an abrupt cooling and warming event c. 8,200 years ago. Repeated measures ANOVAs demonstrated there was no significant overall difference in richness or community evenness over time. A single significant pairwise contrast was found (richness decreased as climate warmed) but was short-lived, indicating that high-level effects were temporary. However, analysis of species turnover measured using community similarity revealed substantial changes (only 24% of species remained at some sites after climatic change), indicating that the actual species within that community had altered. General(ised) Linear Models showed variation in the direction and magnitude of community change was not related to the broadscale biogeographical variables of latitude, longitude or altitude. Our research has several important implications for practitioners involved in community ecology research and woodland management. Although site-level richness is largely unaffected, we caution that there will be considerable species turnover in woodlands as the climate warms. As species turnover at individual sites will have a negligible effect if driven by localised random processes, we recommend practitioners to consider long-term gamma diversity wherever possible. This shifts focus towards landscape-scale approaches that span generations rather than the typical 3-5-year span of funding, management plans and political cycles.

Item Type: Dataset
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Julia Webb
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2021 12:38
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:57

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