Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scattered Nature of Wisconsin's Woodlands Could Complicate Forests' Response to Climate Change

17.07.2008
If a warmer Wisconsin climate causes some northern tree species to disappear in the future, it's easy to imagine that southern species will just expand their range northward as soon as the conditions suit them.

The reality, though, may not be nearly so simple. A model developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison forest ecologists Robert Scheller and David Mladenoff suggests that while certain northern species, such as balsam fir, spruce and jack pine, are likely to decline as the state's climate warms, oaks, hickories and other southern Wisconsin trees will be slow to replace them.

Why? Not only is warming expected to outpace the speed at which southern trees can migrate northward, but barriers to dispersal - particularly agricultural lands - will also likely delay their progress, says Mladenoff.

"The result is that northern forest biomass in the future - that is, the standing amount of forest - could decrease, because the trees that are there now will be experiencing less than optimal conditions," he says. "And the southern species aren't going to fill in as quickly as we'd like." He and Scheller report their findings in the current issue of Climate Research.

Mladenoff explains that trees "move" into new areas by producing seeds, which are then carried over short distances by wind, birds or mammals. Under the right conditions, dispersed seeds then grow into seedlings and eventually mature trees, which produce their own seeds to start the process all over again.

Already a slow process, dispersal becomes even slower when forests are broken up by farmland and urban areas - or fragmented - like they are in Wisconsin. Not only is less suitable habitat available overall, but patches of it can also be widely scattered, making it tough for seeds to cross the gaps. In particular, Mladenoff points to the wide band of agricultural land that runs across the middle of the state as a major obstacle to the northward migration of southern trees.

To arrive at their conclusions, Scheller and Mladenoff fed current satellite classification and forest inventory data for a 1.5 million-hectare area of northwestern Wisconsin into a model, LANDIS-II, that's designed to predict how landscapes will respond to climate shifts. Using two well-established sets of future climate predictions, they then examined changes in parameters such as forest succession, seed dispersal and tree growth during the next 200 years.

In the face of the scientists' predictions, is there anything woodland managers can do now? Mladenoff cautions people not to make any drastic management changes. But one thing managers might begin to try is assisted migration: testing how certain southern Wisconsin species - or even different genetic stocks of the same species - do when planted up north on a trial basis. A prime candidate for experiments like this might be sugar maple, says Mladenoff, which is already widely distributed across Wisconsin and is projected to "do OK" on moist soils in the north when the climate warms.

The state might even consider bringing back the field trials that used to go on routinely in the 1950s and '60s, he says, in which researchers would collect genetic variants of individual tree species all over the state and then plant them in many locations to see where they did best. Although time-consuming, an approach like this could help ease some of the uncertainty we're facing now.

"A lot of this is about our incomplete knowledge of how genetically diverse some species are," Mladenoff says, "and how adaptable they may be in different climates."

Madeline Fisher | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New research recovers nutrients from seafood process water
31.10.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility
17.10.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>