Forest soil vulnerability under climate change: does stand mixity matter in Mediterranean forests?

Forests around the world provide a diverse variety of ecosystem services such as primary production, biogeochemical cycles, carbon sequestration, Recreational-aesthetic value, providing services (wood, medicinal products…). These ecosystem services should be preserved in the context of global changes, especially in Mediterranean area which is already under severe climate and anthropogenic pressures. Moreover, in the context of the development of the wood-energy sector, it is crucial to acquire new information about the impacts of climate changes on soil and litters, since the microorganisms they harbor, ensure particularly the recycling of organic matter and thus plant productivity.

Thus, the aim of this study is to (i) understand how the structure and composition of Mediterranean forests, and associated silvicultural management, affect the functioning of soils through different forest assemblages along a climatic gradient of distance from the sea, (ii) Assess the vulnerability of forest soils to climate aridification and to specify whether certain silvicultural practices (forest mixity) could mitigate these effects.

To simulate the effects of climate change, experiments will be conducted in laboratory via mesocosms but also in natura via an experiment of litter bags transfer across a gradient of aridification between France and Algeria.

Finally, our results will provide useful information to forests managers concerning the type of stands that sustains a better soil functioning under stresses linked to climate change.