Topographic variation in the climatic change response of a larch forest in Northeastern China

Wen H. Cai, Yuan Z. Yang, Jian Yang, Hong S. He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Context: Due to the spatial heterogeneity of the disturbance regimes and community assemblages along topoclimatic gradients, the response of forest ecosystem to climate change varies at the landscape scale. Objectives: Our objective was to quantify the possible changes in forest ecosystems and the relative effects of climate warming and fire regime changes in different topographic positions. Methods: We used a spatially explicit model (LANDIS PRO) combined with a gap model (LINKAGES) to predict the possible response of boreal larch forests to climate and fire regime changes, and examined how this response would vary in different topographic positions. Results: The result showed that the proportion of landscape occupied by broadleaf species increased under warming climate and frequent fires scenarios. Shifts in species composition were strongly influenced by both climate warming and more frequent fires, while changes in age structure were mainly controlled by shifts in fire regime. These responses varied in the different topographic positions, with forests in valley bottoms being most resilient to climate-fire changes and forests in uplands being more likely to shift their composition from larch-dominant to mixed forests. Such variation in the topographic response may be induced by the heterogeneities of the environmental conditions and fire regime. Conclusions: Fire disturbance could alter the equilibrium of ecosystems and accelerate the response of forests to climate warming. These effects are largely modulated by topographic variations. Our findings suggest that it is imperative to consider topographic complexities when developing appropriate fire management policies for mitigating the effects of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2013-2029
Number of pages17
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This research was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFA0604403), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 31270511, 41222004, 31470517, 31500387 & 41501200), CAS Interdisciplinary Innovation Team, and the Hundred Talent Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The authors thank Xu Luo and Xiaona Li for their help in parameterizing LANDIS PRO. We also thank three anonymous reviewers and academic editor for comments that improved this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Climate change
  • Fire disturbance
  • Forest landscape pattern
  • LANDIS model
  • Redundancy analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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