Globally, forests provide life-sustaining services: storing carbon, hosting biodiversity, and regulating climate. These services are threatened by rapidly changing environmental conditions. Recent observations document widespread tree mortality in all forested biomes, but the lack of reliable global assessments of forest condition currently precludes conclusions about a real threat.
Current monitoring approaches are incomplete in their spatial extent or use data with inadequate resolution for detecting individual tree mortality and identifying causal relationships between abiotic and biotic drivers of tree mortality.
Given the interdisciplinary nature of tree and forest mortality, this network brings together scientists from multiple research areas covering different aspects of climate change-driven global tree mortality including, but not limited to:
• Mortality mechanisms,
• Forest inventory,
• Remote sensing, and
We aim to stimulate interdisciplinary thinking and initiate a global effort for assessing global forest conditions at spatial scales relevant to tree mortality.
Data sharing across depositories, such as forest inventories, can provide common and openly accessible data platforms that will facilitate horizontal (intradisciplinary) and vertical (interdisciplinary) information transfer and rapid detection and interpretation of changes in forest condition. To initialize this data sharing within our network we have set up a survey, which you can find here.
This initiative/network will also be the platform for developing a new mortality assessment tool. During the past symposium in Hanover, a team dedicated to citizen science and outreach have proposed a mortality app that will allow users to report occurrences of tree and forest mortality. With this app, we want to develop a tool that records location, types of trees (e.g., species, evergreen vs. deciduous), scale of mortality (individual and groups of trees, forest patches, large forest tracks) and potential drivers.
Ground-based data sources, such as research plots and forest inventories, as well as data from a mobile app, will be horizontally integrated into a common database and combined with data collected from space and from the air to identify and validate mortality events (vertical integration). In these hotspots, experiments and intensive monitoring will be useful for identifying causalities, which will ultimately provide mechanistic parameters for vegetation models to better predict future responses of forests to ongoing climate change.