iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Environmental niche and distribution of six deciduous tree species in the Spanish Atlantic region

Jose V Roces-Díaz (1)   , Borja Jiménez-Alfaro (2), Pedro Álvarez-Álvarez (1), Miguel A Álvarez-García (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 214-221 (2015)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1183-008
Published: Aug 28, 2014 - Copyright © 2015 SISEF

Research Articles

Understanding the influence of environmental factors on the distribution of tree species is essential for developing management actions at regional level. We computed species distribution models for six European tree species to determine their potential niche in the Spanish Atlantic region, where deciduous forests are relatively well preserved. We used data from the national Forest Inventory and topo-climatic and soil variables to construct distribution models by the Generalized Linear Model procedure. The main factors found to determine the presence of the selected species were minimum winter temperature and mineral fertility of soils. Suitable habitats for Quercus petraea and F. sylvatica were mainly high-altitude areas with low minimum temperatures. In contrast, Q. robur and C. sativa were restricted to low altitudes and warmer conditions. Betula pubescens was not influenced by the elevation, probably because it is adapted to Atlantic conditions, and distribution of this species was associated with low fertility soils. Although the submediterranean Q. pyrenaica was positively influenced by the slope, model performance was poor for this species, possibly because of the truncated environmental range of the species in the study area. The findings suggest that temperature rather than moisture is shaping the distribution of deciduous trees at the southern limit of the Atlantic biogeographic region. We also note that the strong elevational difference between the warm coast and the cold mountains may determine the geographical disjunction between Q. robur and Q. petraea in southern Europe.


Species Distribution Models, Topo-climatic Variables, Quercus species, Castanea sativa, Iberian Peninsula, Deciduous Forests

Authors’ address

Jose V Roces-Díaz
Pedro Álvarez-Álvarez
GIS-Forest Group, Department of Organisms and Systems Biology, University of Oviedo, E-33993 Mieres (Spain)
Borja Jiménez-Alfaro
Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University, CZ-61137 Brno (Czech Republic)
Miguel A Álvarez-García
INDUROT, Department of Organisms and Systems Biology, University of Oviedo , E-33993 Mieres (Spain)

Corresponding author

Jose V Roces-Díaz


Roces-Díaz JV, Jiménez-Alfaro B, Álvarez-Álvarez P, Álvarez-García MA (2015). Environmental niche and distribution of six deciduous tree species in the Spanish Atlantic region. iForest 8: 214-221. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1183-008

Academic Editor

Emanuele Lingua

Paper history

Received: Nov 18, 2013
Accepted: May 31, 2014

First online: Aug 28, 2014
Publication Date: Apr 01, 2015
Publication Time: 2.97 months

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