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Projected tree species redistribution under climate change: Implications for ecosystem vulnerability across protected areas in the eastern United States

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Zolkos, Scott G.; Jantz, Patrick; Cormier, Tina; Iverson, Louis R.; McKenney, Daniel W.; Goetz, Scott J.

Year Published

2015

Publication

Ecosystems. 18(2): 202-220.

Abstract

The degree to which tree species will shift in response to climate change is uncertain yet critical to understand for assessing ecosystem vulnerability. We analyze results from recent studies that model potential tree species habitat across the eastern United States during the coming century. Our goals were to quantify and spatially analyze habitat projections and their congruence under multiple climate scenarios and to assess the implications of habitat change for forest vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in and around protected areas. We assessed habitat projections of species habitat extent and forest composition for 35 tree species under climate change from 2000 to 2100 within National Park Service management units in the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (ALCC), spanning an approximately 1,500 km latitudinal gradient. Our results show that forest composition and species ranges could change substantially under all greenhouse gas emissions scenarios and that model correspondence was stronger for projections of habitat declines than increases. Model correspondence generally increased at finer spatial scales, but varied by tree species and focal area. In the ALCC, forest composition was projected to change the most in protected area centered ecosystems (PACEs). Northeastern PACEs were projected to be suitable for tree species currently in southeastern PACEs, suggesting that intermediate suitable habitat regions could promote tree species persistence and mitigate the impacts of climate change on eastern forests. These results suggest\ that climate-specific management of eastern U.S. forest ecosystems will be critical but challenging, requiring integrated assessment and management of PACEs and protected areas as well as higher-resolution monitoring and modeling to inform spatially explicit management decisions within eastern U.S. parks.

Citation

Zolkos, Scott G.; Jantz, Patrick; Cormier, Tina; Iverson, Louis R.; McKenney, Daniel W.; Goetz, Scott J. 2015. Projected tree species redistribution under climate change: Implications for ecosystem vulnerability across protected areas in the eastern United States. Ecosystems. 18(2): 202-220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-014-9822-0.

Last updated on: April 9, 2015