Edge effects enhance carbon uptake and its vulnerability to climate change in temperate broadleaf forests

A large proportion of the world’s forest is highly fragmented, but our understanding of forest carbon dynamics and their response to climate largely comes from unfragmented forests, which presents an important mismatch between landscapes that we study and those that we aim to characterize. We find that temperate broadleaf forest growth and biomass in southern New England increase substantially from forest interior to edge. However, forest growth reductions with climate stress increase with proximity to the edge, pointing to important interactions between forest fragmentation and climate change. We show that, by not accounting for edge effects, current approaches to quantifying regional and global carbon balance may underestimate carbon sequestration and not accurately represent forest growth response to future climate change.




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