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The current DFF project has ended, but we continue the work with other funding    

The big question that we address in TREECHANGE is: how will tree species diversity react to future global climate change? Forests are among the most important ecosystems on Earth, harboring a substantial proportion of biodiversity and providing vital ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, climate regulation, erosion protection, and timber and non-timber forest products. The diversity of tree species plays a central role in forest ecosystems and for the subsistence of millions of people in rural communities worldwide. Part of the challenge in understanding drivers of tree diversity is that we do not have a complete picture of the current tree distribution and diversity of tree species worldwide.

To improve our understanding of global tree distributions, we have carried out a large effort to collect, integrate, and quality check data on distributions, traits, and phylogeny for c. 65,000 identified tree species globally, and are now applying advanced modelling approaches to generate estimates of distributions and climate niches and for estimating missing trait values. For species with very few records, we use gap-filling approaches along with information on functional traits and phylogeny to provide insights on species climate niches. As a key outcome, we will use the results to project tree species ranges under different climate change scenarios to evaluate the impacts on tree diversity. Moreover, we are investigating the patterns of the global functional and phylogenetic diversities using the compiled comprehensive dataset, and examining the effects of paleo- and current climate, among other factors, on these spatial patterns. The project contributes to theme [2] Global Challenges and theme [3] Ecoinformatics and New Technologies of BIOCHANGE.

We have achieved good progress, notably we have built a comprehensive, quality-checked database on Earth’s tree species, covering c. 50,000 tree species and including c. 37 million species occurrence records as well as large amounts of data on functional traits and phylogeny. We have further published the first paper on the project, in Forest Ecosystems, as well as, linked to our efforts with TREECHANGE, contributed as coauthors to a paper on the global patterns of tree-soil organism mutualisms in Nature (and providing the journal’s front-page photo).


Project collaborations:

Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative (GFBI)


Botanical Information and Ecology Network (BIEN) – Center director Jens-Christian Svenning is a core member of the network


Jens-Christian Svenning

Professor, Centre Director Department of Biology - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity

Wenyong Guo

Visiting Researcher Department of Biology - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity


From August 12-16, Jens-Christian Svenning and Brian Enquist, from University of Arizona, hosted the joint BIEN & TREECHANGE workshop at BIOCHANGE/ECOINF, with about 20 precipitants from the USA, Australia, China, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, and Denmark. During the workshop, many of the attendees presented their progress and potential ideas related to BIEN/TREECHANGE. We discussed the future work of collecting species traits and distribution data, and of building a global data network, with separate data hubs located in each main region. Jens-Christian and other European precipitants further discussed the possibility and logistics of the European hub. Apart from the technical part, all attendees spent about two days discussing how to use the current data available to answer current important ecological, evolutionary and conservation questions, and finally identified over fifteen potential projects after intensive debates.