By comparing temperatures under the canopy versus in the open at 98 sites across the world, an international team of researchers has shown that forests function as a thermal insulator, cooling the understory when ambient temperatures are hot and warming the understory when ambient temperatures are cold. The understory versus open temperature offset becomes greater as temperatures increase and is larger than the warming of land temperatures over the past century. Tree canopies may thus reduce the impact of warming on forest biodiversity and functioning.

This study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, was undertaken by Pieter De Frenne of Ghent University and Jonathan Lenoir, CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire Écologie et dynamique des systèmes anthropisés (CNRS / Université de Picardie Jules Verne).

Reference:

Global buffering of temperatures under forest canopies. Pieter De Frenne, Florian Zellweger, Francisco Rodríguez-Sánchez, Brett Scheffers, Kristoffer Hylander, Miska Luoto, Mark Vellend, Kris Verheyen and Jonathan Lenoir. Nature Ecology & Evolution DOI : 10.1038/s41559-019-0842-1

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