Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Northern forests do not benefit from lengthening growing season, study finds

Date:
January 13, 2010
Source:
University of Helsinki
Summary:
Forests in northern areas are stunted, verging on the edge of survival. It has been anticipated that climate change improves their growth conditions. A new study shows that due to their genetic characteristics trees are unable to properly benefit from the lengthening growing season. Furthermore, the researchers were surprised to find that the mortality of established trees considerably promotes the adaptation of forests to the changing environment.

Forest in Finland.
Credit: iStockphoto/David Navrαtil

Forests in northern areas are stunted, verging on the edge of survival. It has been anticipated that climate change improves their growth conditions. A study published in Forest Ecology and Management journal shows that due to their genetic characteristics trees are unable to properly benefit from the lengthening growing season.

Furthermore, the researchers were surprised to find that the mortality of established trees considerably promotes the adaptation of forests to the changing environment.

In cooperation with colleagues at the Universities of Oulu and Potsdam, Anna Kuparinen, Docent at the University of Helsinki's Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, simulated forest growth from southern to northern Finland. A meteorological dispersal model was applied to describe the spread of pollen and seeds in the atmosphere. Above all, the results illustrate the slowness of the adaptation process.

Generally, trees stop growing before the frosts and this cessation of growth has been programmed in their genotype. Therefore, trees are unable to effectively follow the increasing environmental growing season. Instead, they cease growth as dictated by their genotype. It is estimated that after hundred years from now northern forests will substantially lag behind the speed of growth that would be enabled by their environment.

Evolution is promoted by the mortality of established trees

The researchers assumed that demographic characteristics of the trees would have a notable impact on their adaptability. Tree species differ for example so that birch matures at a considerably younger age than pine, and birch seeds spread more effectively than pine seeds. However, the results showed that these differences had only minor impacts. Instead, the mortality of established trees played a large role in the evolutionary adaptation.

The existing trees in northern forests will survive in a warmer climate better than before but, at the same time, they prevent genetically better adapted individuals from becoming more common. In a dense stand, old trees cast a shadow and prevent new seedlings from establishing. In this way, younger seedlings, which would be more suitable to warmer conditions, cannot easily progress beyond the sapling state.

A question closely related to environmental changes is, whether humans should help the populations to adapt? For forests, possible means of human aid include thinning and planting southern seeds to more northern locations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Helsinki. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Helsinki. "Northern forests do not benefit from lengthening growing season, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100112121940.htm>.
University of Helsinki. (2010, January 13). Northern forests do not benefit from lengthening growing season, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100112121940.htm
University of Helsinki. "Northern forests do not benefit from lengthening growing season, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100112121940.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) — An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Icelandic authorities briefly raised the aviation warning code to red on Friday during a small eruption at the Holuhraun lava field in the Bardabunga volcano system. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins