Climate Change and...

Annotated Bibliography

Effects of Climate Change

Vegetation

Bréda, N., Huc, R., Granier, A., Dreyer, E. (2006). Temperate forest trees and stands under severe drought: a review of ecophysiological responses, adaptation processes and long-term consequences. Annals of Forest Science 63 (6): 625-644

ABSTRACT: The extreme drought event that occurred in Western Europe during 2003 highlighted the need to understand the key processes that may allow trees and stands to overcome such severe water shortages. We therefore reviewed the current knowledge available about such processes. First, impact of drought on exchanges at soil-root and canopy-atmosphere interfaces are presented and illustrated with examples from water and CO2 flux measurements. The decline in transpiration and water uptake and in net carbon assimilation due to stomatal closure has been quantified and modelled. The resulting models were used to compute water balance at stand level basing on the 2003 climate in nine European forest sites from the CARBOEUROPE network. Estimates of soil water deficit were produced and provided a quantitative index of soil water shortage and therefore of the intensity of drought stress experienced by trees during summer 2003. In a second section, we review the irreversible damage that could be imposed on water transfer within trees and particularly within xylem. A special attention was paid to the inter-specific variability of these properties among a wide range of tree species. The inter-specific diversity of hydraulic and stomatal responses to soil water deficit is also discussed as it might reflect a large diversity in traits potentially related to drought tolerance. Finally, tree decline and mortality due to recurrent or extreme drought events are discussed on the basis of a literature review and recent decline studies. The potential involvement of hydraulic dysfunctions or of deficits in carbon storage as causes for the observed long term (several years) decline of tree growth and development and for the onset of tree dieback is discussed. As an example, the starch content in stem tissues recorded at the end of the 2003's summer was used to predict crown conditions of oak trees during the following spring: low starch contents were correlated with large twig and branch decline in the crown of trees.

Calef, M. P., Mcguire, A. D., Epstein, H. E., Rupp, T. S., Shugart, H. H. (2005). Analysis of vegetation distribution in Interior Alaska and sensitivity to climate change using a logistic regression approach. Journal of Biogeography 32 (5): 863-878

ABSTRACT:To understand drivers of vegetation type distribution and sensitivity to climate change.Interior Alaska.A logistic regression model was developed that predicts the potential equilibrium distribution of four major vegetation types: tundra, deciduous forest, black spruce forest and white spruce forest based on elevation, aspect, slope, drainage type, fire interval, average growing season temperature and total growing season precipitation. The model was run in three consecutive steps. The hierarchical logistic regression model was used to evaluate how scenarios of changes in temperature, precipitation and fire interval may influence the distribution of the four major vegetation types found in this region.At the first step, tundra was distinguished from forest, which was mostly driven by elevation, precipitation and south to north aspect. At the second step, forest was separated into deciduous and spruce forest, a distinction that was primarily driven by fire interval and elevation. At the third step, the identification of black vs. white spruce was driven mainly by fire interval and elevation. The model was verified for Interior Alaska, the region used to develop the model, where it predicted vegetation distribution among the steps with an accuracy of 60–83%. When the model was independently validated for north-west Canada, it predicted vegetation distribution among the steps with an accuracy of 53–85%. Black spruce remains the dominant vegetation type under all scenarios, potentially expanding most under warming coupled with increasing fire interval. White spruce is clearly limited by moisture once average growing season temperatures exceeded a critical limit (+2 °C). Deciduous forests expand their range the most when any two of the following scenarios are combined: decreasing fire interval, warming and increasing precipitation. Tundra can be replaced by forest under warming but expands under precipitation increase.The model analyses agree with current knowledge of the responses of vegetation types to climate change and provide further insight into drivers of vegetation change.

Cleland, E. E., Chiariello, N. R., Loarie, S. R., Mooney, H. A., Field, C. B. (2006). Diverse responses of phenology to global changes in a grassland ecosystem. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (37): 13740-13744

ABSTRACT: Shifting plant phenology (i.e., timing of flowering and other developmental events) in recent decades establishes that species and ecosystems are already responding to global environmental change. Earlier flowering and an extended period of active plant growth across much of the northern hemisphere have been interpreted as responses to warming. However, several kinds of environmental change have the potential to influence the phenology of flowering and primary production. Here, we report shifts in phenology of flowering and canopy greenness (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) in response to four experimentally simulated global changes: warming, elevated CO2 , nitrogen (N) deposition, and increased precipitation. Consistent with previous observations, warming accelerated both flowering and greening of the canopy, but phenological responses to the other global change treatments were diverse. Elevated CO2 and N addition delayed flowering in grasses, but slightly accelerated flowering in forbs. The opposing responses of these two important functional groups decreased their phenological complementarity and potentially increased competition for limiting soil resources. At the ecosystem level, timing of canopy greenness mirrored the flowering phenology of the grasses, which dominate primary production in this system. Elevated CO2 delayed greening, whereas N addition dampened the acceleration of greening caused by warming. Increased precipitation had no consistent impacts on phenology. This diversity of phenological changes, between plant functional groups and in response to multiple environmental changes, helps explain the diversity in large-scale observations and indicates that changing temperature is only one of several factors reshaping the seasonality of ecosystem processes.

Piao, S. L., Friedlingstein, P., Ciais, P., Zhou, L. M., Chen, A. P. (2006). Effect of climate and CO2 changes on the greening of the Northern Hemisphere over the past two decades. Geophysical Research Letters 33 (L23402): doi:10.1029/2006GL028205

ABSTRACT: Study of the effect of current climate changes on vegetation growth, and their spatial patterns improves our understanding of the interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and climatic systems. This paper explores the spatial patterns of vegetation growth responding to climate variability over Northern Hemisphere (>25°N) from 1980 to 2000 using a mechanistic terrestrial carbon model. The results indicate that changes in climate and atmospheric CO2 likely function as dominant controllers for the greening trend during the study period. At the continental scale, atmospheric CO2 , temperature, and precipitation account for 49%, 31%, and 13% of the increase in growing season LAI, respectively, but their relative role is not constant across the study area. The increase in vegetation activity in most of Siberia is associated with warming, while that in central North America is primarily explained by the precipitation change. The model simulation also suggests that the regression slope of LAI to temperature increases with soil moisture, but decreases with temperature. This implies that the contribution of rising temperature to the current enhanced greening trend will weaken or even disappear under continued global warming. We also find that the effects of both vegetation precipitation use efficiency and atmospheric CO2 fertilization on the greening trend increase as soil moisture becomes limiting.

CCSP, P. Backlund, A. Janetos, D. Schimel, J. Hatfield, K. Boote, P. Fay, L. Hahn, C. Izaurralde, B.A. Kimball, T. Mader, J. Morgan, D. Ort, W. Polley, A. Thomson, D. Wolfe, M. Ryan, S. Archer, R. Birdsey, C. Dahm, L. Heath, J. Hicke, D. Hollinger, T. Huxman, G. Okin, R. Oren, J. Randerson, W. Schlesinger, D. Lettenmaier, D. Major, L. Poff, S. Running, L. Hansen, D. Inouye, B.P. Kelly, L Meyerson, B. Peterson, R. Shaw (2008a). The effects of climate change on agriculture, land resources, water resources, and biodiversity. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: 362 p.

MAJOR FINDINGS:

- Climate change is already affecting U.S. water resources, agriculture, land resources, and biodiversity, and will continue to do so.

- Grain and oilseed crops will mature more rapidly, but increasing temperatures will increase the risk of crop failures, particularly if precipitation decreases or becomes more variable.

- Higher temperatures will negatively affect livestock. Warmer winters will reduce mortality but this will be more than offset by greater mortality in hotter summers. Hotter temperatures will also result in reduced productivity of livestock and dairy animals.

- Forests in the interior West, the Southwest, and Alaska are already being affected by climate change with increases in the size and frequency of forest fires, insect outbreaks and tree mortality. These changes are expected to continue.

- Much of the United States has experienced higher precipitation and streamflow, with decreased drought severity and duration, over the 20th century. The West and Southwest, however, are notable exceptions, and increased drought conditions have occurred in these regions.

- Weeds grow more rapidly under elevated atmospheric CO2 . Under projections reported in the assessment, weeds migrate northward and are less sensitive to herbicide applications.

- There is a trend toward reduced mountain snowpack and earlier spring snowmelt runoff in the Western United States.

- Horticultural crops (such as tomato, onion, and fruit) are more sensitive to climate change than grains and oilseed crops.

- Young forests on fertile soils will achieve higher productivity from elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Nitrogen deposition and warmer temperatures will increase productivity in other types of forests where water is available.

- Invasion by exotic grass species into arid lands will result from climate change, causing an increase fire frequency. Rivers and riparian systems in arid lands will be negatively impacted.

- A continuation of the trend toward increased water use efficiency could help mitigate the impacts of climate change on water resources.

T. R Seastedt, R. J Hobbs, K. N Suding (2008). Management of novel ecosystems: are novel approaches required?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6 (10): 547-553

ABSTRACT: Most ecosystems are now sufficiently altered in structure and function to qualify as novel systems, and this recognition should be the starting point for ecosystem management efforts. Under the emerging biogeochemical configurations, management activities are experiments, blurring the line between basic and applied research. Responses to specific management manipulations are context specific, influenced by the current status or structure of the system, and this necessitates reference areas for management or restoration activities. Attempts to return systems to within their historical range of biotic and abiotic characteristics and processes may not be possible, and management activities directed at removing undesirable features of novel ecosystems may perpetuate or create such ecosystems. Management actions should attempt to maintain genetic and species diversity and encourage the biogeochemical characteristics that favor desirable species. Few resources currently exist to support the addition of proactive measures and rigorous experimental designs to current management activities. The necessary changes will not occur without strong input from stakeholders and policy makers, so rapid information transfer and proactive research–management activities by the scientific community are needed.

S.T. Jackson, R. J. Hobbs (2009). Ecological restoration in the light of ecological history. Science 325 (5940): 567-569

SUMMARY: Ecological history plays many roles in ecological restoration, most notably as a tool to identify and characterize appropriate targets for restoration efforts. However, ecological history also reveals deep human imprints on many ecological systems and indicates that secular climate change has kept many targets moving at centennial to millennial time scales. Past and ongoing environmental changes ensure that many historical restoration targets will be unsustainable in the coming decades. Ecological restoration efforts should aim to conserve and restore historical ecosystems where viable, while simultaneously preparing to design or steer emerging novel ecosystems to ensure maintenance of ecological goods and services.

Alftine, K. J., G.P. Malanson, D.B. Fagre (2003). Feedback-driven response to multidecadal climatic variability at an alpine treeline. Physical Geography 24 (6): 520-535

ABSTRACT: The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has significant climatological and ecological effects in northwestern North America. Its possible effects and their modification by feedbacks are examined in the forest-tundra ecotone in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. Tree ring samples were collected to estimate establishment dates in 10 quadrats. Age-diameter regressions were used to estimate the ages of uncored trees. The temporal pattern of establishment and survival was compared to the pattern of the PDO. A wave of establishment began in the mid-1940s, rose to a peak rate in the mid-1970s, and dropped precipitously beginning ca. 1980 to near zero for the 1990s. The period of establishment primarily coincided with the negative phase of the PDO, but the establishment and survival pattern is not correlated with the PDO index. The pattern indicates a period during which establishment was possible and was augmented by positive feedback from surviving trees. Snow may be the most important factor in the feedback, but studies indicate that its effects vary locally. Spatially differentiated analyses of decadal or longer periodicity may elucidate responses to climatic variation.

Lovett, G.M., K.C. Weathers, M.A. Arthur (2002). Control of nitrogen loss from forested watersheds by soil carbon:nitrogen ratio and tree species composition. Ecosystems 5 (7): 712-718

ABSTRACT: Leaching losses of nitrate from forests can have potentially serious consequences for soils and receiving waters. In this study, based on extensive sampling of forested watersheds in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, we examine the relationships among stream chemistry, the properties of the forest floor, and the tree species composition of watersheds. We report the first evidence from North America that nitrate export from forested watersheds is strongly influenced by the carbon:nitrogen (C:N) ratio of the watershed soils. We also show that variation in soil C:N ratio is associated with variation in tree species composition. This implies that N retention and release in forested watersheds is regulated at least in part by tree species composition and that changes in species composition caused by introduced pests, climate change, or forest management could affect the capacity of a forest ecosystem to retain atmospherically deposited N.

Bachelet, D.R., R.P. Neilson, J.M. Lenchan, R.J. Drapek (2001). Climate change effects on vegetation distribution and carbon budgets in the United States. Ecosystems 4 (3): 164-185

ABSTRACT: The Kyoto protocol has focused the attention of the public and policymakers on the earth's carbon (C) budget. Previous estimates of the impacts of vegetation change have been limited to equilibrium "snapshots" that could not capture nonlinear or threshold effects along the trajectory of change. New models have been designed to complement equilibrium models and simulate vegetation succession through time while estimating variability in the C budget and responses to episodic events such as drought and fire. In addition, a plethora of future climate scenarios has been used to produce a bewildering variety of simulated ecological responses. Our objectives were to use an equilibrium model (Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil system, or MAPSS) and a dynamic model (MC1) to (a) simulate changes in potential equilibrium vegetation distribution under historical conditions and across a wide gradient of future temperature changes to look for consistencies and trends among the many future scenarios, (b) simulate time-dependent changes in vegetation distribution and its associated C pools to illustrate the possible trajectories of vegetation change near the high and low ends of the temperature gradient, and (c) analyze the extent of the US area supporting a negative C balance. Both models agree that a moderate increase in temperature produces an increase in vegetation density and carbon sequestration across most of the US with small changes in vegetation types. Large increases in temperature cause losses of C with large shifts in vegetation types. In the western states, particularly southern California, precipitation and thus vegetation density increase and forests expand under all but the hottest scenarios. In the eastern US, particularly the Southeast, forests expand under the more moderate scenarios but decline under more severe climate scenarios, with catastrophic fires potentially causing rapid vegetation conversions from forest to savanna. Both models show that there is a potential for either positive or negative feedbacks to the atmosphere depending on the level of warming in the climate change scenarios.

Rehfeldt, G.E., Crookston, N.L., Warwell, M.V., Evans, J.S. (2006). Empirical analyses of plant-climate relationships for the western United States. International Journal of Plant Sciences 167 (6): 1123-1150

ABSTRACT: The Random Forests multiple-regression tree was used to model climate profiles of 25 biotic communities of the western United States and nine of their constituent species. Analyses of the communities were based on a gridded sample of ca. 140,000 points, while those for the species used presence-absence data from ca. 120,000 locations. Independent variables included 35 simple expressions of temperature and precipitation and their interactions. Classification errors for community models averaged 19%, but the errors were reduced by half when adjusted for misalignment between geographic data sets. Errors of omission for species-specific models approached 0, while errors of commission were less than 9%. Mapped climate profiles of the species were in solid agreement with range maps. Climate variables of most importance for segregating the communities were those that generally differentiate maritime, continental, and monsoonal climates, while those of importance for predicting the occurrence of species varied among species but consistently implicated the periodicity of precipitation and temperature-precipitation interactions. Projections showed that unmitigated global warming should increase the abundance primarily of the montane forest and grassland community profiles at the expense largely of those of the subalpine, alpine, and tundra communities but also that of the arid woodlands. However, the climate of 47% of the future landscape may be extramural to contemporary community profiles. Effects projected on the spatial distribution of species-specific profiles were varied, but shifts in space and altitude would be extensive. Species-specific projections were not necessarily consistent with those of their communities.

Neilson, R. P. (1986). High-resolution climatic analysis and southwest biogeography. Science 232 (4746): 27-34

ABSTRACT: Meteorologists and climatologists have produced significant new data on the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere, thus allowing biologists to examine more closely the cause-effect relation between the large-scale structure of the atmosphere and the dominant patterns of global biogeography. The inability to characterize the high-frequency variability of the weather has constrained such efforts. A method that allows year-to-year patterns of weather variability to be characterized in the contexts of global warming and cooling trends is applied in a combined analysis of long-term monthly weather records and data from an ecological monitoring project in southern New Mexico. The analysis suggests a cause-effect hypothesis of recent desertification in the North American Southwest. The links between the atmosphere and the biosphere are based on the fundamentally different responses to specific weather regimes of semidesert grasses with a C4 photosynthetic pathway and desert shrubs with a C3 photosynthetic pathway. The hypothesis appears to be of sufficient generality to explain the complex, but well-documented, floristic changes that have occurred in the same region since the last glacial maximum.

Ibáñez, I., Clark, J. S., Dietze, M. C. (2008). Evaluating the sources of potential migrant species: implications under climate change. Ecologcial Applications 18 (7): 1664-1678

ABSTRACT: As changes in climate become more apparent, ecologists face the challenge of predicting species responses to the new conditions. Most forecasts are based on climate envelopes (CE), correlative approaches that project future distributions on the basis of the current climate often assuming some dispersal lag. One major caveat with this approach is that it ignores the complexity of factors other than climate that contribute to a species' distributional range. To overcome this limitation and to complement predictions based on CE modeling we carried out a transplant experiment of resident and potential-migrant species. Tree seedlings of 18 species were planted side by side from 2001 to 2004 at several locations in the Southern Appalachians and in the North Carolina Piedmont (USA). Growing seedlings under a large array of environmental conditions, including those forecasted for the next decades, allowed us to model seedling survival as a function of variables characteristic of each site, and from here we were able to make predictions on future seedling recruitment. In general, almost all species showed decreased survival in plots and years with lower soil moisture, including both residents and potential migrants, and in both locations, the Southern Appalachians and the Piedmont. The detrimental effects that anticipated arid conditions could have on seedling recruitment contradict some of the projections made by CE modeling, where many of the species tested are expected to increase in abundance or to expand their ranges. These results point out the importance of evaluating the potential sources of migrant species when modeling vegetation response to climate change, and considering that species adapted to the new climate and the local conditions may not be available in the surrounding regions.

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