31 Oct 2011:
Maps Depict Changes
In Ranges of Trees in Eastern U.S.
The U.S. Forest Service has released a series of maps showing, under different emissions scenarios, how the ranges of various tree species in the eastern U.S. may shift as the climate warms
. Forest types
traditionally associated with particular regions will migrate north, shifting the ecosystems they support. Beyond impacting the foliage that attracts tourists during the fall season, the researchers say the shifts will also affect local biodiversity in unpredictable ways. The maple, beech, and birch forests that characterize New England, New York, and Pennsylvania will give way to oak/hickory-dominated forests, squeezing fauna that depend on the former, and changing the overall character of the landscape ecology. The picturesque paper birches, aspens, spruces, and firs that dominate far-northern portions of the east will also retreat, with the southern tail of the spruce/fir range crossing the Canadian border completely. The models predict a number of scenarios for changing forests — all dependent on levels of greenhouse gas emissions — with the worst-case scenarios showing a near-total takeover by oak and hickory by 2100.
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