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”
Kai Zhu, Christopher W. Woodall, Souparno Ghosh, Alan E. Gelfand, James S. Clark
Published Sept. 11, 2013, in Global Change Biology
Tim Lucas | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.duke.edu
Further Reports about: Change Biology > changing climate > Climate change > computer model > Environment > Forest Service > Forum Life Science > Global Change Biology > Instead > life cycle > NSF > speed|scan atlineCT-System > tree species
More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:
Sustainable recultivation of abandoned agricultural land in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus
04.12.2013 | Leibniz-Institut für Agrarentwicklung in Mittel- und Osteuropa
Which genes cause deafness in dogs?
04.12.2013 | Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
A genetic defect protects mice from infection with influenza viruses
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen and ...
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
06.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News