Study Demonstrates Climate Change Effects on Forests

An 18 year study of 27,000 trees by National Science Foundation funded scientists has shown that tree growth and the ability to produce viable seeds are more sensitive to climate change than previously thought.  Pine, elm, beech and magnolia trees were found to be especially vulnerable to climate change.

The trees studied included 40 species, located in 11 different forest stands in the southern Appalachians, the Piedmont and the coastal plain.  Scientists measured and recorded the growth, mortality and the ability to produce viable seeds for each of the 27,000 trees at least once every three years and identified earlier spring warming as one of several factors that affect tree reproduction and growth – summer drought was also found to be an important, but overlooked, risk factor for tree survival.

Lead author of the paper, James Clark of Duke University, said, “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,” and commented that, “Trees are much more sensitive to climate variation than can be interpreted from regional climate averages.”

For further details about the study, please visit this RedOrbit web page.

David M. Davison

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