Author: Marco Mina


What factors determine whether tree species compete or complement each other?

The growth of the forest depends on a series of variables and their complex net of interactions. When the forest is composed of multiple species (called a “mixture”) its growth also depends on the intra- and inter-specific interactions between these species. Given the rising interest for biodiversity conservation, among other ecosystem services, there have been a number of growing studies on mixing effects. In this post I would like to quickly present the main results of my newly published paper on this topic. Forests richContinue reading


The Return of the Forest: how trees reconquered the European continent after the last Ice Age

People who are interested in the ecology of European forests know that the current climatic gradient has a big influence in shaping the distribution and diversity of tree species in the continent. Shrubs and evergreen broadleaves in the southern Mediterranean areas, broadleaf and mixed forests in temperate regions, conifers in north and in the Alps. However, this is just a snapshot. Forests in Europe have varied greatly over the last million years due to the alternating cycle of glacial and interglacial period. Research on thisContinue reading


Aliens are coming! Threatening invasion or new opportunities from introduced tree species in Europe?

Austrian “Apfel strudel” and the Italian “Castagnaccio” are only two of the many culinary recipes that are traditional in Europe. But did you know that their main ingredients are the product of trees – Malus domestica and Castanea sativa – that are actually non-native to Europe? Many trees and crops have been introduced to Europe over the last centuries but when does a species become “invasive”? Could newly introduced tree species be an opportunity in this uncertain era of climatic changes? Scientists are trying toContinue reading


The future of Silver fir under climate change and browsing

We are back on the million dollar question: how will our forests develop in this uncertain era of climate change? Yes, many study showed that changing climate might have strong impacts on the dynamics of temperate forests, but let’s not forget that management and other factors played (and will play) an important role for European forests. Among the different forest ecosystems in Europe, the mixed silver fir-beech Dinaric forests are one of the most fascinating to me. If you do not know much about them,Continue reading

drought on the desert Mojave

The response of the forest to drought: the role of stand density and species diversity

Trees are beautiful complex adaptive organisms. As we see them standing immobile, deeply rooted to the ground and unable to move, we may think that they are defenceless to any change happening to their surrounding environment. In the case of drought, trees have evolved to use different strategies for facing water stress. However, intense and repeated droughts can induce changes in carbon allocation, regeneration rates and mortality. As the frequency and intensity of droughts are expected to increase in many regions due to climate change,Continue reading

The growth before death

The growth before death: a better understanding of tree mortality using tree ring data

With the historical drought in California causing the death of something like 102 Million trees in the Sierra Nevada, the topic of tree mortality is hotter than ever. It is usually easy to see if a tree is standing dead or alive. However, understanding the physiological mechanisms that lead to tree mortality and predicting mortality patterns over space and time remains a challenge. Read more what a large pool of researchers recently found using to tree ring records.


Ecosystem services, mountain forests and climate change

When speculating on what is going to happen to our forests in an uncertain future, it is hard to generalize. Impacts on tree growth, regeneration and mortality due to climate change and other factors (e.g., forest management, disturbances) are usually quantified with scenario modelling at course, large-scale. However, given the heterogeneity of European mountain forests, the effects of climate change on ecosystem services at the local-scale seems to be highly variable. Read more what researchers from ETH Zürich in collaboration with other European partners found.