Climate changes may have immediate implications for forest productivity and may produce dramatic shifts in tree species distributions in the future. Quantifying these implications is significant for both scientists and managers. Cunninghamia lanceolata is an important coniferous timber species due to its fast growth and wide distribution in China. This paper proposes a methodology aiming at enhancing the distribution and productivity of C. lanceolata against a background of climate change. First, we simulated the potential distributions and establishment probabilities of C. lanceolata based on a species distribution model. Second, a process-based model, the PnET-II model, was calibrated and its parameterization of water balance improved. Finally, the improved PnET-II model was used to simulate the net primary productivity (NPP) of C. lanceolata. The simulated NPP and potential distribution were combined to produce an integrated indicator, the estimated total NPP, which serves to comprehensively characterize the productivity of the forest under climate change. The results of the analysis showed that (1) the distribution of C. lanceolata will increase in central China, but the mean probability of establishment will decrease in the 2050s; (2) the PnET-II model was improved, calibrated, and successfully validated for the simulation of the NPP of C. lanceolata in China; and (3) all scenarios predicted a reduction in total NPP in the 2050s, with a markedly lower reduction under the a2 scenario than under the b2 scenario. The changes in NPP suggested that forest productivity will show a large decrease in southern China and a mild increase in central China. All of these findings could improve our understanding of the impact of climate change on forest ecosystem structure and function and could provide a basis for policy-makers to apply adaptive measures and overcome the unfavorable influences of climate change.
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