Climate Impacts on Forests and Ecosystems

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Presentation from a Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies public forum on climate change by Gary Lovett, Forest Ecologist, Cary Institute.

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  • To those of us who study forests here at the Institute, a forest looks lik ethis. This is the “wiring diagram” for a forest. And this is just a simplification, need to add nutrients and the food web. My point is not to try to explain this to you– you’d need a lot more coffeee for thst, but just to say that every single one of these boxes and arrows is affected by climate change. And they are all affected independently, so figuring out how a forest will respond is a complicated business.
  • To those of us who study forests here at the Institute, a forest looks lik ethis. This is the “wiring diagram” for a forest. And this is just a simplification, need to add nutrients and the food web. My point is not to try to explain this to you– you’d need a lot more coffeee for thst, but just to say that every single one of these boxes and arrows is affected by climate change. And they are all affected independently, so figuring out how a forest will respond is a complicated business.
  • Climate Impacts on Forests and Ecosystems

    1. 1. Climate Impacts on Forests Gary Lovett Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Science and Management Forum: Climate Change in the Hudson Valley
    2. 2. Data from Gosz et al 1978. Diagram from Molles 2006.
    3. 3. Data from Gosz et al 1978. Diagram from Molles 2006.
    4. 4. There are known knowns . These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns . There are things we don't know we don't know. Donald Rumsfeld
    5. 5. Some Known Knowns <ul><li>Trees like CO 2 * </li></ul><ul><li>Most trees like a longer growing season * </li></ul><ul><li>Tree species vary in their response to CO 2 , temperature and water </li></ul><ul><li>Trees compete with their neighbors </li></ul>* As long as they have enough water and nutrients and don’t get eaten by bugs
    6. 6. Examples of Carbon Dioxide Effects on Plants: <ul><li>Positive : </li></ul><ul><li>Tree growth increases by about 20% </li></ul><ul><li>Trees produce more pollen and seed </li></ul><ul><li>Trees use less water </li></ul><ul><li>Negative : </li></ul><ul><li>Ragweed produces more pollen </li></ul><ul><li>Poison ivy grows better and is more potent </li></ul>Two Types of Effects: Carbon Dioxide Effect and Climate Effect Experimental pine forest site in NC Known unknown: How long will the CO2 fertilization effect persist?
    7. 7. <ul><ul><ul><li>Photosynthesis </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Respiration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Seed production </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Transpiration </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Growing season </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Decomposition </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Microbial function </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nutrient cycling </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Insect growth </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Birds and mammals </li></ul></ul></ul>Climate Change Affects Just About Everything in a Forest Ecosystem
    8. 8. Snow Cover Will Be Reduced Area with snow on the ground for at least 30 days during the winter Source: Union of Concerned Scientists 2007 Known unknown : What are the cascading effects of reduced snow cover on trees, soil, and mammals?
    9. 9. Tree Species Will Shift Northward Predicted Change in Forest Types under Future Climate Maps from Iverson and Prasad (2001) Known unknown : Can species ranges change fast enough to keep up with climate?
    10. 10. Bird species will change along with the forests From UCS 2007
    11. 11. Photo: Doug Burns Local Vegetation Change: Good-bye to mountaintop spruce-fir forests in the Catskills Bicknell’s thrush Blackpoll warbler
    12. 12. From Vitale and Schlesinger 2011 Some bird species are arriving in Dutchess County earlier May 1 Apr 1 Mar1 Known unknown : Will synchrony be maintained among leaves, bugs and birds?
    13. 13. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid <ul><li>Known unknowns : </li></ul><ul><li>How fast will the adelgid evolve tolerance to cold temperatures? </li></ul><ul><li>Will a predator or disease emerge to stop the adelgid? </li></ul><ul><li>What other pests will invade due to warming temperatures? </li></ul>Wild Card: Insects and Diseases Mountain Pine Beetle Infestation Northern extent set by climate
    14. 14. Hurricane Irene, 8/26/2011, NASA Goddard Source : NEFA Hubbard Brook, NH, 1998 Wild Card: Storms
    15. 15. Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
    16. 16. Management and Adaptation <ul><li>Reduce other stresses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Acid rain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Air pollution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overabundance of deer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invasive species </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use best harvest practices to minimize impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain unfragmented forests with a variety of habitats </li></ul>Forested Areas in Town of Stanford. Map by Hudsonia, Ltd, 2005.

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