How Will Rainforest Trees Cope With Warmer Climates?

 

Dr. Kristine Crous has been awarded an ARC DECRA to investigate how rainforest trees will cope with climate warming.

Rainforest
Rainforests are species-rich and represent an important carbon sink of up to 25% of the global terrestrial C storage. Warming can result in a reduction of productivity in rainforests.

Climate is the main driver of species' geographical distributions with temperature being a central regulator of tree growth and many physiological processes. Given the fast rate of warming with predictions of 2-5°C increase by the end of the century, trees may no longer be able to track suitable climate conditions to grow and therefore may need to physiologically adjust to higher temperatures. The adjustment of photosynthesis and respiration to increased temperatures can serve as a first line of evidence underpinning the species' ability to cope with climate warming.

This project focuses on how rainforest species in Australia will respond to climate variability via linking the acclimation potential of species at the warmest edge of their distribution to climate...

Rainforest species are considered highly sensitive to warming because they experienced minimal temperature variation in the past. Rainforests are species-rich and represent an important carbon sink of up to 25% of the global terrestrial C storage. Warming can result in a reduction of productivity in rainforests.

This project asks Can rainforest trees at the warmest edge of their current native geographic distribution successfully adjust to warming? And is the capacity to acclimate carbon exchange physiology in these trees different in warmer (tropical) versus cooler (temperate) climates?

This project focuses on how rainforest species in Australia will respond to climate variability via linking the acclimation potential of species at the warmest edge of their distribution to climate, in order to inform future distribution ranges and species resiliency.

The multi-faceted nature of this proposal combining observational and experimental approached will maximise our understanding of physiological plasticity in the face of climate change and greatly improve our capacity to safeguard our unique rainforest flora from possible future extinctions (outcome).

Quantifying the capacity of plants to cope with warming will not only help predict future carbon uptake with warming, but will also be important for the management of forests and conservation of biodiversity, especially those species with restricted native climatic ranges and those of high conservation value such as rainforests.

This project P00022692 "How will Australian rainforest trees cope with climate warming?" is funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) scheme.

Project Scientists

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