Nearly 80 percent of the species aren’t yet shifting their geographic distributions to higher latitudes. Instead, they’re staying in place – but speeding up their life cycles.
The Duke University-led study, published online Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology, is the first to show that a changing climate may have dual impacts on forests. It adds to a growing body of evidence, including a 2011 study by the same Duke team, that climate-driven migration is occurring much more slowly than predicted, and most plant species may not be able to migrate fast enough to stay one step ahead of rising temperatures.
“Our analysis reveals no consistent, large-scale northward migration is taking place. Instead, most trees are responding through faster turnover – meaning they are staying in place but speeding up their life cycles in response to longer growing seasons and higher temperatures,” said James S. Clark, H.L. Blomquist Professor of Environment at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
Anticipating the impacts of this unexpected change on U.S. forests is an important issue for forest managers and for the nation as a whole, Clark said. It will have far-reaching consequences for biodiversity and carbon storage.
To test whether trees are migrating northward, having faster turnover, or both, the scientists went through decades of data on 65 dominant tree species in the 31 eastern states, compiled by the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program. They used computer models to analyze the temperature and precipitation requirements of the trees at different life stages, and also considered factors like reproductive dependence of young and adult trees.
“The patterns we were able to see from this massive study are consistent with forests having faster turnover, where young trees tend to be more abundant than adult trees in warm, wet climates. This pattern is what we would expect to see if populations speed up their life cycle in warming climates,” said lead author Kai Zhu, a doctoral student of Clark’s at Duke. “This is a first sign of climate change impacts, before we see large-scale migrations. It gives a very different picture of how trees are responding to climate change.”
The fact that most trees are not yet showing signs of migration “should increase awareness that there is a significant lag time in how tree species are responding to the changing climate,” Zhu said.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Zhu was supported by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant.
Christopher W. Woodall, research forester at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minn., Souparno Ghosh, a postdoctoral researcher in Duke’s Department of Statistical Science, and Alan E. Gelfand, J.B. Duke Professor of Statistics and Decision Sciences in Duke’s Department of Statistical Science, were co-authors of the study. Clark also holds an appointment as professor in the Department of Statistical Science.
NOTE: Kai Zhu is available for additional comment at (919) 613-8037 or firstname.lastname@example.org. James S. Clark is available at (919) 613-8036 or email@example.com.“Dual Impacts of Climate Change: Forest Migration and Turnover through Life History”
Tim Lucas | EurekAlert!
Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State
How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy