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BG2.3/EG4

The climate response of Mediterranean vegetation: lessons for a warming Europe? (co-organized)
Convener: Kadmiel Maseyk  | Co-Conveners: Juan Ferrio , Victor Resco de Dios 
Oral Programme
 / Wed, 06 Apr, 08:30–10:00  / Room 24
Poster Programme
 / Attendance Wed, 06 Apr, 17:30–19:00  / Display Wed, 06 Apr, 08:00–19:30  / Poster Area BG
At the southern extent of Europe, the Mediterranean region can be considered a climate transition zone between the more temperate latitudes and the arid areas to the south and east. The vegetation of the region is a mixture of recently evolved Mediterranean-adapted and relict species of functional types present across the European continuum. Components of the region express both ecophysiological and phenological responses that represent this transition state, and species level adaptations and ecosystem structure and function that reflect growth in the warm and dry environment. Therefore, understanding the relationship between vegetation function, biogeochemical processes and climate in the Mediterranean may provide key information on long-term ecosystem responses under the warmer and drier conditions anticipated to be of increasing regional significance. Indeed, with a high diversity in functional types and phylogenetic origins, and extreme temporal and spatial climate variability, the Mediterranean constitutes a valuable, but lesser-studied, natural experimental area for plant response to environmental drivers.

This session will focus on disentangling the impact of vegetation structure and function on biogeochemical cycles and biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks in Mediterranean-type systems, and what implications these may have for both the Mediterranean region and warming temperate-zones. To give an example, whereas the observed large-scale drought-induced mortality episodes are likely to have a positive feedback to climate change and desertification, the diversity of the Mediterranean region may serve to buffer such changes. Understanding the equilibrium between such opposing forces is critical for establishing reliable regional-scale global change scenarios. We welcome studies across scales, from plant to ecosystem, that address the impact of plant function on carbon, water, energy and nutrient cycles, and encourage a diverse range of approaches, such as flux, stable isotope, paleoclimate and gradient studies. Although the main focus is the Mediterranean/temperate transition in Europe, contributions from Mediterranean-like ecosystems around the world are welcome.