Milwaukee Edition
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Migrating Trees

Forests Shift West with Climate Change

WathanyuSowong/Shutterstock.com

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.


This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Life Coach Intertwines Multiple Skill Sets to Help People Achieve Goals

Keridak Silk specializes in helping people resolve issues with love or family relationships, as well as building confidence in all aspects of life.

Facebook Party Introduces the Facilitators of Dragon Egg Academy

All day on Saturday, February 9, people can learn via Facebook about the new Dragon Egg Academy, an online course program covering classes on topics such as divination, intuition, energy work, elementals, dragons and more.

Dare to Be Aware Fair Celebrates 12 Years Promoting Wellness

The 12th annual Dare to Be Aware Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at the Sister Joel Read Conference Center, at Alverno College.

Plastic-Free MKE Raising Awareness of Plastic Pollution

Plastic-Free MKE, a volunteer group dedicated to reducing single-use plastic in the Milwaukee area, holds meetings on the first Monday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Urban Ecology Center’s Riverside Park location.

Wellness Practitioners Present Self-Care Seminar

Emily Yenor, owner of 1212 Bodyworks, along with Kelly Kolodzinski, owner of Renew Holistic Wellness, will be hosting an interactive and engaging seminar about the importance of self-care entitled Love Yourself.

Personal Discovery Awaits at the Body Mind Spirit Expo

Now in its 31st year, Body Mind Spirit Expo has become the largest alternative health and metaphysical expo in the United States.

Letter from Publisher

Ethical financial planning and socially conscious investing is a primary theme of our February issue, presented in our Green Living article, “Investing for Good."

Food for Thought

Dr. Sarah Axtell, naturopathic doctor and owner of Lakeside Natural Medicine, will lead Food for Thought–Nutrition and Brain Workshop, aimed at helping people enhance memory and focus, eliminate brain fog and improve mood, from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at Tosa Yoga.

Reiki to Facilitate Forgiveness

Reiki is growing in popularity as people are seeking out complementary therapies for their health.

Bug Apocalypse

The number of invertebrates and insects such as moths, butterflies and bees has dropped worldwide by 45 percent in the last 35 years, raising alarm about the global ecosystem.

Fish Revival

Following the removal two years ago of an obsolete dam, shad have returned to New Jersey’s Millstone River for the first time since 1845.

Horse Sense

The wild horse herds on North Carolina’s Outer Banks survived Hurricane Florence by huddling on high ground, hiding in maritime forests, and possibly by swimming.

Add your comment: