Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Eastern U.S. forests not keeping pace with climate change, large study finds

Date:
November 2, 2011
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
More than half of eastern US tree species examined in a massive new study aren't adapting to climate change as quickly or consistently as predicted.

Researchers have found that more than half of eastern US tree species aren't adapting to climate change as quickly or consistently as predicted.
Credit: Sean Gladwell / Fotolia

More than half of eastern U.S. tree species examined in a massive new Duke University-led study aren't adapting to climate change as quickly or consistently as predicted.

"Many models have suggested that trees will migrate rapidly to higher latitudes and elevations in response to warming temperatures, but evidence for a consistent, climate-driven northward migration is essentially absent in this large analysis," says James S. Clark, H.L. Blomquist Professor of Environment at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

Nearly 59 percent of the species examined by Clark and his colleagues showed signs that their geographic ranges are contracting from both the north and south.

Fewer species -- only about 21 percent -- appeared to be shifting northward as predicted. About 16 percent seemed to be advancing southward, and around 4 percent appeared to be expanding in both directions.

The scientists analyzed data on 92 species in more than 43,000 forest plots in 31 states. They published their findings this month in the journal Global Change Biology.

The study found no consistent evidence that population spread is greatest in areas where climate has changed the most; nor do the species' response patterns appear to be related to seed size or dispersal characteristics. "Warm zones have shifted northward by up to 100 kilometers in some parts of the eastern United States, but our results do not inspire confidence that tree populations are tracking those changes," says Clark, who also holds appointments at Duke as a professor of biology and statistics. "This increases the risk of serious lags in tree migrations."

The concept of climate-driven migration is based on the assumption that as temperatures warm, the southern edge of some tree species' ranges could begin to erode as adult trees die and the seeds they leave behind in the soil can no longer sprout. At the same time, the species could spread to higher latitudes as seedlings dispersed on their northern boundaries are able to take root in newly favorable climates there.

To test whether this predicted response was occurring in real life, Clark and his colleagues pored through decades of data compiled by the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. They compared the relative distributions of seedlings, saplings and adult trees of 92 widely distributed eastern U.S. species at 43,334 plots in 30 different longitudinal bands, and factored in things like seed characteristics, and changes in climate and precipitation.

"The patterns of tree responses we were able to document using this seedling-versus-tree analysis are more consistent with range contraction than with northward migration, although there are signs some species are shifting to higher elevations," Clark says.

The fact that the majority of the northernmost latitudes documented for seedlings was lower than those for adult trees of the same species indicates "a lack of evidence for climate-mediated migration, and should increase concern for the risks posed by climate change," he says.

Kai Zhu, a doctoral student of Clark's at Duke, was lead author of the study. Christopher W. Woodall, research forester at the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minn., was a co-author.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Kai Zhu, Christopher W. Woodall, James S. Clark. Failure to migrate: lack of tree range expansion in response to climate change. Global Change Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02571.x

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Eastern U.S. forests not keeping pace with climate change, large study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111031154132.htm>.
Duke University. (2011, November 2). Eastern U.S. forests not keeping pace with climate change, large study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111031154132.htm
Duke University. "Eastern U.S. forests not keeping pace with climate change, large study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111031154132.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
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
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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