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Report describes Central Hardwoods forest vulnerabilities, climate change impacts
Date:3/4/2014

be less favorable for northern species such as sugar maple, American beech and white ash and become more suitable for southern species such as shortleaf pine.

  • Forest fragmentation, an existing stressor for the region's forests, may reduce the ability of species that are adapted to future climate conditions to expand into new areas.

  • Ecosystems that are adapted to frequent fire, such as open woodlands and savannas, may be more resilient to climate change because warmer temperatures are projected to increase the risk of wildfire.

    "Plants, animals, and people all depend on forests and may all face additional challenges as temperatures increase and precipitation patterns shift," said John Shuey, a co-author of the study and Director of Conservation Science for the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. "But we don't have to wait until these changes wreak havoc on our forest habitats. We can start managing for the future today by nudging our forests towards species adapted to withstand future climates."

    More than a century of weather records demonstrate a changing climate for the Central Hardwoods, a region that is 40 percent forested, with about 80 percent of forested land privately owned. Since 1900, minimum temperatures in the Central Hardwood Region have increased by 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit and maximum temperatures have decreased by a similar amount. The region is receiving 12 to 17 percent more precipitation, particularly in the spring and fall since the turn of the last century. Over the past 30 years, more rain has been falling as heavy precipitation events of 3 inches or greater. Since the 1970s, a decrease in snow cover has led to an increase in soil frost.

    "Confronting the challenge of climate change presents opportunities for managers and other decision-makers to plan ahead, foster resilient landscapes, and ensure that the benefits that forests provide are sustained into the future," said Michael T. Rains, Director of
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  • Contact: Jane Hodgins
    jmhodgins@fs.fed.us
    651-649-5281
    USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station
    Source:Eurekalert  

    Page: 1 2 3

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