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Biodiversité d'une prairie. Prairie naturelle de montagne d’Auvergne. ,Dans la nature, il existe une grande diversité de plantes sauvages. Les prairies permanentes peuvent associer jusqu’à 60 à 70 espèces différentes. Observer les prairies pour comprendre les interactions « plantes - herbivores - micro organismes » du sol dans la perspective d’une meilleure complémentarité entre maintien ou restauration de la qualité du milieu et renforcement de la qualité de l’alimentation des troupeaux dans des territoires ruraux fragilisés.,La prairie apparaît comme un milieu forgé par sa richesse en éléments minéraux disponibles (naturellement ou provenant de la fertilisation) et par le mode d’intervention (pâturage et fauche) des animaux. Ce sont les deux leviers qui peuvent être utilisés pour modifier la composition botanique et les performances, en termes de quantité et de qualité, afin de mieux répondre aux exigences nouvelles.,. © INRA, TOILLON Sylvie

Adaptation and biodiversity

FORADAPT Project - Assessing the potential of forest adaptation to climate change

The FORADAPT project aims at evaluating forest adaptation strategies in response to climate change. The first objective is to deepen and assemble knowledge concerning adaptation of forest ecosystems to climate change. We aim at bridging the knowledge gap between phenotypic plasticity, genetic adaptation, the potential of tree migration and the structure of forest communities, factors that are usually studied independently. The second objective is to extend currently existing ecological databases, by including the intra specific variability of traits that determine how a plant acclimates or adapts to climate change. The third objective is to develop and use both niche and Physio-Demo-Genetic models to assess the adaptation potential of tree species and identify management strategies for preserving ecosystem services in forested areas.  

Updated on 11/05/2014
Published on 10/09/2014

Forests are key ecosystems for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water cycle and other economic services related to human activities (wood, hunting, tourism). Some of these services are threatened by global changes. Scientists and forest managers have already studied the risks associated to these changes. But a lot of uncertainties remain as concern the adaptation potentialities of a forest in response to the expected increase of both temperature and drought. A tree like any other living organism displays natural capacities of adaptation when the environment is changing. It is crucial to better understand these natural mechanisms of adaptation in order to promote the forestry practices and the genetic resources the most appropriate ones to sustain ecosystem services.

At ecosystem level, the natural mechanisms for adaptation can be organized into 4 types: phenotypic plasticity (i.e the modification of tree characteristics throughout its life), genetic evolution (i.e the frequency change of tree characteristics inside a population by selection in descents), migration and community rearrangement (i.e the replacement of some species by others more adapted to the new conditions).  

Plantation comparative de sapins méditerranéens au Treps (Var). © INRA, Hendrik Davi
Plantation comparative de sapins méditerranéens au Treps (Var) © INRA, Hendrik Davi

In FORADAPT project, we follow two main objectives linking ground and applied science. First, we will deepen and synthetize all the accumulated knowledge on that topic. Then we will apply this knowledge on several case studies to determine which forestry practices has to be favored and which genetic resources (species or provenances) has to be planted according the soil and climate conditions. 

Mechanisms of adaptation are often studied separately by scientists from various fields of research: ecophysiology, genetic, population dynamics, community ecology and forestry. FORADAPT aims at creating a scientific network to common knowledge and data concerning forest adaptation. It will help to (i) determine what are the lacking observations or experiments, (ii) improve our database, (iii) make synthesis. Finally we will also use different kinds of models: niche model that statistically predict the climate shape over which a species can grow and process-based model that simulate the evolution of forest functioning under climatic changes. Answer to all the questions putted by the stakeholders is beyond the scope of FORADPAT. Our objective is to propose a methodology and tools. We will prove the reliability of this methodology by applying it on a selection of contrasted case studies: from “hard option” such like the replacement of some species by exotic species (e.g Douglas) or the plantation of southern provenances in the North (e.g oak), to “soft option” such like a water saving forestry (e.g Cedar) or by favoring genetic adaptation and migration (e.g mountain beech).

Duration: 4 years (2013 - 2016)

Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Forest, Grassland and Freshwater Ecology