Sánchez Pinillos, Martina
Assessing forest response-type diversity to natural disturbances in Peninsular Spain and the Balearic Islands = Evaluación de la diversidad de tipos de respuesta a perturbaciones naturales en la España peninsular e Islas Baleares.
Thesis (Master thesis), E.T.S.I. Montes (UPM).
Disturbances shape forest ecosystems by influencing their composition, structure, and processes. In the Mediterranean Basin, changes in the disturbance regimes have been predicted to occur in the next future with a higher occurrence of extreme events of drought, wildfire, and – to a lesser extent – windstorm. Woody species are the main elements defining the structure and functioning of forest ecosystems. Recently, response-type diversity has been pointed out as an appropriate indicator of ecosystems resilience. For this, we have elaborated a complete response-trait database for the tree and shrubby species considered in the Third Spanish National Forest Inventory (3SNFI). In the database, the presence or absence of nine response traits associated to drought, fire, and wind were assigned to each species. The database reflected the lack of information about some important traits (in particular for shrubby species) and allowed to determine those traits most widely distributed. The information contained in the database was then used to assess a relative index of forest resilience to these disturbances calculated from the abundance of response traits and the species redundancy for each plot of the 3SNFI; considering both tree and shrubby species. In general, few plots showed high values of the resilience index, probably because some traits were scarcely presented in the species and also because most plots presented very few species. The cartographic representation of the index showed low values for the stands located in mountainous ranges, which are mostly composed by species typical from central Europe. In the other side, Eucalyptus plantations in Galicia appeared as one thee the most resilient ecosystems, due to its higher adaptive capacity to persist after the occurrence of drought, fire, and windstorm events. We conclude that the response traits database can constitute a useful tool for forest management and planning and for future research to enhance the forest resilience.