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 email@example.com. James S. Clark is available at (919) 613-8036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.“Dual Impacts of Climate Change: Forest Migration and Turnover through Life History”
Tim Lucas | EurekAlert!
Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge
Unusual soybean coloration sheds a light on gene silencing
20.06.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology