Navigation Links
'Epidemiological' study demonstrates climate change effects on forests

An 18-year study of 27,000 individual trees by National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded scientists finds that tree growth and fecundity--the ability to produce viable seeds--are more sensitive to climate change than previously thought.

The results, published tomorrow in the journal Global Change Biology, identify earlier spring warming as one of several factors that affect tree reproduction and growth.

They also show summer drought as an important but overlooked risk factor for tree survival, and that species in four types of trees--pine, elm, beech, and magnolia--are especially vulnerable to climate change.

The findings may help scientists and policymakers better predict which species are vulnerable to climate change and why.

"In a sense, what we've done is an epidemiological study on trees to better understand how and why certain species, or demographics, are sensitive to variation and in what ways," says James Clark of Duke University, lead author of the paper.

To conduct the study, Clark and colleagues measured and recorded the growth, mortality and fecundity of each of the 27,000 trees at least once every three years, ultimately compiling an archive of more than 280,000 tree-years of data.

Using a specially designed bioinformatic analysis, they quantified the effects of climate change on tree species over time.

"This work demonstrates the limitations of current modeling approaches to predict which species are vulnerable to climate change and illustrates the importance of incorporating ecological factors such as species competition," says Alan Tessier, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

The approach allowed the scientists to calculate the relative importance of various factors, alone and in combination, including the effects of localized variables such as competition with other trees for light, or the impact of summer drought.

"As climate continues to change, we know forests will respond," says Clark.

"The problem is, the models scientists have used to predict forest responses focus almost solely on spatial variation in tree species abundance--their distribution and density over geographic range."

If all trees of a species grew in the same conditions--the same light, moisture, soil and competition for resources--this generalized, species-wide spatial analysis might suffice, Clark says.

Then scientists wouldn't need to worry about demographic variables and risk factors when trying to predict biodiversity losses due to climate change.

"But in the real world, we do," Clark says. "That's where the new concept of climate and resource tracking of demographic rates comes in.

"Trees are much more sensitive to climate variation than can be interpreted from regional climate averages."

The trees studied included 40 species, located in eleven different forest stands in three geographic regions of the Southeast--the southern Appalachians, the Piedmont and the coastal plain.

They were subjected to both natural and experimental variations.

"By quantifying the effects and relative importance of competition [between species] and climate variables," says Clark, "including impacts on fecundity, over both time and space, the model we've developed addresses this need and can be used to guide planning."


Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Neiker-Tecnalia confirms need to undertake epidemiological monitoring programs for ticks
2. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
3. £2 million study to reveal workings of dementia genes
4. New study looks to define evangelicals and how they affect polling
5. CU-Boulder study suggests air quality regulations miss key pollutants
6. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
7. Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas
8. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
9. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
10. New study indicates link between weight gains during pregnancy and dieting history
11. Study reveals specific gene in adolescent men with delinquent peers
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
'Epidemiological' study demonstrates climate change effects on forests
(Date:11/9/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. ... interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the automotive ... solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics human ... biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry and ... Europe , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Va. , Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, ... today that it has released a new version of ... customers in North America have ... IdentityX v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF certified ... are already preparing to activate FIDO features. These customers ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... -- In the present market scenario, security is one ... verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, electronic gadgets, and ... secure & simplified access control and growing rate of ... bank accounts, misuse of users, , and so on. ... and smartphones are expected to provide potential opportunities for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX ) ... CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting at the ... New York . .   ... 5 minutes prior to the presentation to download or ... will be available on the website approximately one hour ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 The Global ... a professional and in-depth study on the current ... (Logo: ) , The ... including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. ... international markets including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) ... the following conference, and invited investors to participate via ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... event of the year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical ... ran from 8–11 November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees ...
Breaking Biology Technology: