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 April 20, 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 April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
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