Forests Shift West with Climate Change
The consequences of climate change are impacting plant species in unanticipated, but logical ways; for instance, conifers and other needle trees are moving northward because they are more sensitive to temperature than flowering, deciduous trees. They already populate the boreal forest of eastern North America, so they’re well-adapted to expand into colder, drier conditions.
Individual trees can’t move, but populations can shift over time as saplings expand into a new region while older growth dies in another. A new study published in Science Advances also shows that about three-quarters of tree species common to eastern American forests, including white oaks, sugar maples and American holly, have shifted their population centers westward since 1980 due to drier conditions in the East.
Global warming has significantly altered rainfall totals. Songlin Fei, a professor of forestry at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana, and one of the study authors, observes, “Different species are responding to climate change differently. Most of the broadleaf species of deciduous trees are following moisture that’s moving westward.”
Changes in land use, conservation efforts, wildfire frequency and the arrival of pests and blights all play parts in shifting populations. Forest ecosystems are defined as much by the mix of species and the interaction between them as by the simple presence of many trees. If different species migrate in different directions, then ecological communities could eventually collapse.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.
More from Natural Awakenings
While Milwaukee has had its share of unraveling over the years, today activism abounds as community leaders strive for healthy, livable communities that include safe, friendly neighborhoods; public access to green space; thriving, locally owned businesses; and transportation alternatives such as mass transit, cycling and walkability.
At Royal Road Clinic, Royal strives to create an overall relaxing ambiance where people can feel safe and comfortable sharing their stories.
From Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1, Cherie McCoy will lead a weekend workshop in Brown Deer designed to teach professionals and students the tools of self-acceptance.
During the month of June, Marilyn Murphy of Spiritual Enlightenment is offering $10 off a one-hour healing session of shaman release work, ascension, reiki, sound therapy or advanced crystal healing.
The Treasures of Oz Eco-Tour, held on June 16, is a free, annual, family-friendly event that celebrates the abundance of nature throughout Ozaukee County. The focus for 2018 will be Ozaukee’s “Other Coast”— the portion of the Milwaukee River that runs through the county.
On July 27, 28 and 29, Light of Grace Healing and Education Center, in West Allis, will host Fearless Dying, a workshop about death and dying as viewed through A Course in Miracles.
Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, with campuses in Racine, Wisconsin, and Evanston, Illinois, now offers new online courses.
Rather than popping a pill, eating certain foods can kick-start hormones that help us get a long, deep night’s sleep.
Efforts are underway around the country to make polluted waterways clean again and to instill local appreciation for their many helpful roles.
The wildlife expert explains why we should appreciate wolves, snakes and bats and what he finds encouraging about an enlightened focus on wildlife protection.
Families with children as young as 5 easily bond when they mindfully run together at a fun pace.
Across the country, cities from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Portland are finding fresh new ways to create engaging street life for residents while eco-upgrading their green spaces, services and infrastructure.