Funding was provided by the Northern Research Station and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
Climatic changes -- Siberia, Forest biomass, Boreal forests, Insects -- Effect of logging on, Forest biodiversity -- Effect of logging on
Multiple global changes such as timber harvesting in areas not previously disturbed by cutting and climate change will undoubtedly affect the composition and spatial distribution of boreal forests, which will, in turn, affect the ability of these forests to retain carbon and maintain biodiversity. To predict future states of the boreal forest reliably, it is necessary to understand the complex interactions among forest regenerative processes (succession), natural disturbances (e.g., fire, wind, and insects), and anthropogenic disturbances (e.g., timber harvest). We used a landscape succession and disturbance model (LANDIS-II) to study the relative effects of climate change, timber harvesting, and insect outbreaks on forest composition, biomass (carbon), and landscape pattern in south-central Siberia. We found that most response variables were more strongly influenced by timber harvest and insect outbreaks than by the direct effects of climate change. Direct climate effects generally increased tree productivity and modified probability of establishment, but indirect effects on the fire regime generally counteracted the direct effects of climate on forest composition. Harvest and insects significantly changed forest composition, reduced living aboveground biomass, and increased forest fragmentation. We concluded that: (1) Global change is likely to significantly change forest composition of south-central Siberian landscapes, with some changes taking ecosystems outside the historic range of variability. (2) The direct effects of climate change in the study area are not as significant as the exploitation of virgin forest by timber harvest and the potential increased outbreaks of the Siberian silk moth. (3) Novel disturbance by timber harvest and insect outbreaks may greatly reduce the aboveground living biomass of Siberian forests and may significantly alter ecosystem dynamics and wildlife populations by increasing forest fragmentation.
Eric J. Gustafson, Anatoly Z. Shvidenko, Brian R. Sturtevant, and Robert M. Scheller 2010. Predicting global change effects on forest biomass and composition in south-central Siberia. Ecological Applications 20:700–715.