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Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
Research Topics: Climate Change, Mitigation, and Adaptation Science
Evaluating Ecosystem Effects
Climate variability and change has broad effects on physical and ecological attributes of ecosystem composition, structure, and function at many temporal and spatial scales. PSW research units and scientists excel in studies that investigate relationships of ecosystems and driving natural and anthropogenic forces, including climate.
Vegetation Response to Climate Change
High mountain systems, such as the Sierra Nevada, are uniquely sensitive to anticipated global climate changes and act as "canaries in the coal mine" to provide early signals of significant climate-driven changes. Research in the Sierra Nevada by PSW scientists shows how vegetation has responded to climate in the past and indicates changes that might be coming in the future.
Wildlife Response to Climate Change
Amphibian and reptile populations respond strongly to changes and variability in air and water temperature, precipitation, and the hydroperiod of their environments. Over the short-term (e.g. annually), these factors can determine reproductive success rates and survival to metamorphosis. Over the long term, the frequency and duration of extreme temperature and precipitation events can influence the persistence of populations and the overall structure of meta-populations on the landscape. Amphibian research at PSW includes work on high elevation species that may be especially vulnerable to predicted climate warming, such as mountain yellow-legged frogs and Yosemite toads. Species like the foothill yellow-legged frog and western pond turtle that inhabit riverine environments, especially in regulated (dammed) systems are also vulnerable to projected variability in the timing and amount of precipitation. Research on amphibians includes development of restoration techniques which could be used to enhance populations in areas that may be less impacted by climate change.
Insect and Disease Response to Climate Change
Forest plant diseases are heavily influenced by weather and climate. For forest pathogenic fungi, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, the temperature and moisture conditions interacting with the host determine infection severity and disease distribution. Extreme weather, i.e. drought or typhoons, can kill large expanses of trees directly by overwhelming tree physiological and structural strength. Patterns and rates of wood decay, caused by forest fungi, are also expected to change in response to climate changes which will influence forest carbon cycles. Expected changes in climate coupled with the increasing stresses of invasive species, lack of fire, and forest fragmentation are creating conducive conditions for many forest plant diseases.
Physical Environment Response to Climate Change
Research is conducted by:
|Last Modified: May 3, 2016 02:37:33 PM|