Changements climatiques et herbivorie : influence sur la régénération et le potentiel d'avenir des forêts mélangées

Abstract : There is growing concern about the future of temperate mountainous forests, because of climate change and of the difficulties in regenerating forests caused by large ungulates pressure. Herbivore ungulate populations have strongly increased since the middle of the XXth century in the northern hemisphere. By their selective browsing due to their dietary preferences, they exert a strong pressure on regeneration, which intensity on each tree species varies with their palatability. The response of regeneration to climate change in terms of growth and survival is still poorly known, but some results suggest it could be affected differentially given the different autecologies of the species. In such a global changes context, mixed forests are considered a valuable option of adaptation. How would the regeneration phase respond to those two pressures, and what could be the future of a mixed stand in such a context? This study focuses on the effects of browsing by large ungulates and climate change on mixed silver fir, Norway spruce and beech stand regeneration. We show that the lower amount of light reaching the ground in mixed stands does not affect beech regeneration germinating. We demonstrate a quasi-substitution of silver fir by Norway spruce saplings when submitted to high browsing pressure. At the finer scale of foliar traits, we find different responses among the three species to varying climate and browsing pressure, silver fir being the only species expressing an answer to browsing (increase in shoot mechanical resistance and in foliar C:N). Our results also demonstrate a decrease in browsing with increasing winter temperature, and a stronger effect of browsing than of spring temperature on saplings growth for silver fir, beech and sycamore maple. Finally, our simulations of the dynamics of a mixed silver fir-Norway spruce-beech stand suggest a shift in tolerance to drought thresholds due to browsing, and confirm the possible eradication of silver fir in scenarios combining browsing and climate change. This work highlights the influence of large ungulates interacting with climate conditions on forest regeneration dynamics, and the importance to consider this pressure in research protocols aiming at studying the behaviour of regeneration in changing climate contexts.
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Marianne Bernard. Changements climatiques et herbivorie : influence sur la régénération et le potentiel d'avenir des forêts mélangées. Biologie végétale. Université Montpellier, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018MONTG052⟩. ⟨tel-02010545⟩

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