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Study Suggests Tree Ranges Are Already Shifting Due to Climate Change

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One of the big uncertainties of the global climate change phenomena is what will happen to trees. Although some predict that increased carbon dioxide levels could increase growth, what really concerns scientists and forest managers are the effects that changes in mean annual temperatures and precipitation patterns will have, not just on individual trees, but on forests and plant species distributions. The uncertainty raises many questions: What will happen to specific tree species as temperatures increase and a species' optimum temperature range moves northward? Will most spruce and firs, which thrive in the colder environments of mountain heights and higher latitudes, disappear from the central Appalachian Mountains? What about the spruce bogs in northern New England and Minnesota? Will iconic, economically important trees such as sugar maples "move" to Canada? Many trees are already under various stresses from invasive pests and diseases, and additional stresses could create major additional problems for individual trees and greatly change our forests. How will our trees and forests cope? There is concern that some tree species might disappear from parts or even all of their ranges if climate changes are severe.

View the Autumn 2010 Research Review (1.3 MB PDF)

For more information contact

Jane Hodgins
Public Affairs Specialist
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station
1992 Folwell Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108


Last modified: October 18, 2010