An indicator of tree migration in forests of the eastern United States

An indicator of tree migration in forests of the eastern United States Changes in tree species distributions are a potential impact of climate change on forest ecosystems. The examination of tree species shifts in forests of the eastern United States largely has been limited to simulation activities due to a lack of consistent, long-term forest inventory datasets. The goal of this study was to compare current geographic distributions of tree seedlings (trees with a diameter at breast height ≤2.5 cm) with biomass (trees with a diameter at breast height > 2.5 cm) for sets of northern, southern, and general tree species in the eastern United States using a spatially balanced, region-wide forest inventory. Compared to mean latitude of tree biomass, mean latitude of seedlings was significantly farther north (>20 km) for the northern study species, while southern species had no shift, and general species demonstrated southern expansion. Density of seedlings relative to tree biomass of northern tree species was nearly 10 times higher in northern latitudes compared to southern latitudes. For forest inventory plots between 44° and 47° north latitude where southern tree species were identified, their biomass averaged 0.46 tonnes/ha while their seedling counts averaged 2600 ha −1 . It is hypothesized that as northern and southern tree species together move northward due to greater regeneration success at higher latitudes, general species may fill their vacated niches in southern locations. The results of this study suggest that the process of northward tree migration in the eastern United States is currently underway with rates approaching 100 km/century for many species. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Forest Ecology and Management Elsevier

An indicator of tree migration in forests of the eastern United States

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Abstract

Changes in tree species distributions are a potential impact of climate change on forest ecosystems. The examination of tree species shifts in forests of the eastern United States largely has been limited to simulation activities due to a lack of consistent, long-term forest inventory datasets. The goal of this study was to compare current geographic distributions of tree seedlings (trees with a diameter at breast height ≤2.5 cm) with biomass (trees with a diameter at breast height > 2.5 cm) for sets of northern, southern, and general tree species in the eastern United States using a spatially balanced, region-wide forest inventory. Compared to mean latitude of tree biomass, mean latitude of seedlings was significantly farther north (>20 km) for the northern study species, while southern species had no shift, and general species demonstrated southern expansion. Density of seedlings relative to tree biomass of northern tree species was nearly 10 times higher in northern latitudes compared to southern latitudes. For forest inventory plots between 44° and 47° north latitude where southern tree species were identified, their biomass averaged 0.46 tonnes/ha while their seedling counts averaged 2600 ha −1 . It is hypothesized that as northern and southern tree species together move northward due to greater regeneration success at higher latitudes, general species may fill their vacated niches in southern locations. The results of this study suggest that the process of northward tree migration in the eastern United States is currently underway with rates approaching 100 km/century for many species.

Journal

Forest Ecology and ManagementElsevier

Published: Feb 28, 2009

References

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