You are here: Home / Research Topics / Research Highlights / Individual Highlight

Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Building Forests That are Adapted to Drought

Photo of Contrasting low (left) and high (right) stocking in ponderosa pine forest in Taylor Woods, Fort Valley Experimental Forest. Alessandra Bottero, University of MinnesotaContrasting low (left) and high (right) stocking in ponderosa pine forest in Taylor Woods, Fort Valley Experimental Forest. Alessandra Bottero, University of MinnesotaSnapshot : Climate change models predict increased summer droughts throughout much of the United States. Forest Service scientists are showing that silvicultural treatments mitigate against growth losses from drought. The information provides managers with the information needed to adapt forest to a future climate.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Palik, Brian J. , PhD 
Research Location : All NRS States; Arizona; South Dakota
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 613

Summary

In much of the United States, summer droughts are expected to become more frequent and intense, and longer in duration due to climate change. Soil moisture deficits will cause declines in tree vigor and loss of forest growth, resulting in degraded wildlife habitat, reduced carbon uptake, and loss of forest productivity. Researchers with the Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the universities of Minnesota and Maine have implemented an experiment on Forest Service experimental forests to examine forest growth response to past droughts as influenced by different levels of tree stocking (basal area) and regeneration methods. The study capitalizes on the Forest Service's research infrastructure on experimental forests, which maintains long-term silvicultural experiments with different stand structures that are 50 years old or older, across several past drought events in a wide range of forest types. Results show that stocking levels can minimize growth losses during and after drought in a range of forests, including red pine, ponderosa pine, and northern hardwoods. This project is extensive in scope and scale and is helping managers understand how to adapt forests to a changing climate so the effects of drought are minimized and ecosystem goods and services continue.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Superior, Chippewa, Chequamegon-Nicolet, Wayne, and White Mountain National Forests
  • Anthony D'Amato and Alessandra Bottero, University of Minnesota
  • John Bradford, USGS
  • Shawn Fraver, University of Maine

Strategic
Program Areas

Priority
Areas