Trees for tomorrow: an evaluation framework to assess
potential candidates for assisted migration to Manitoba’s
Received: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 1 April 2018 / Published online: 31 May 2018
Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract Forest managers are beginning to experiment with assisted migration (AM), the
intentional movement of organisms to areas outside their historic range, as a pre-emptive
adaptation to climate change. To date, AM studies have focused on species conservation, while
AM in forestry has received little attention. Using Manitoba, Canada, as our study area, we
developed a two-stage framework to evaluate North American tree species as AM candidates.
Little’s (1971) range maps were used to characterize climatic ranges for 87 species, and GCM
projections under RCP8.5 estimated potential future tree distributions for 2011–2040, 2041–
2070, and 2071–2100. Traits for the resulting 26 candidate species were evaluated in eight
categories, each divided into several response factors, to investigate management potential,
adaptation and interspecific interactions, vulnerability to pests, diseases and natural distur-
bance, and range of soil conditions tolerated. Multivariate analyses were used to classify
species into groups characterized by different combinations of management potential, toler-
ance for climate extremes, and relative vulnerability to disturbances, insects, and disease.
These groupings could be used by managers in a variety of applications—commercial forestry,
urban forests, or restoration—as an initial selection filter for AM candidates. Separate uncer-
tainty scores in each category should allow users to independently judge the quality of
information contributing to a given category. Although our framework was regionally focused,
it could be readily adapted to selecting AM candidates elsewhere. We recommend that the
framework be further field tested among different practitioners, modifying, editing, and adding
to the list of categories and factors, as needed.
Climatic Change (2018) 148:591–606
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-018-
2201-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Andrew Park
Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9,
Prairie Climate Centre, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9,