Drought, fire and grazing precursors to large-scale pine forest decline
Simon E. Connor, João Araújo, Tomasz Boski, Ana Gomes, Sandra D. Gomes, Manel Leira, Maria da Conceição Freitas,Cesar Andrade, César Morales-Molino, Fátima Franco-Múgica, Rufus B. Akindola, Boris Vannière
Temperate forests are currently facing multiple stresses due to climate change, biological invasions, habitat fragmentation and fire regime change. How these stressors interact with each other influences how, when and whether ecosystems recover, or whether they adapt or transition to a different ecological state. Because forest recovery or collapse may take longer than a human lifetime, predicting the outcomes of different stressor combinations remains difficult. A clearer vision of future forest trajectories in a changing world may be gained by examining collapses of forests in the past. Here, we use long-term ecological data to conduct a post-mortem examination of the decline of maritime pine forests (Pinus pinaster Ait.) on the SW Iberian Peninsula 7000–6500 years ago.