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Individual Highlight

Indexing Climate Change and Ecosystem Services Across Eastern Forests

Photo of Diverse eastern forest stand Moorman's River near Sugar Hollow Reservoir, White Hall, VA. Stephen Matthews, USDA Forest ServiceDiverse eastern forest stand Moorman's River near Sugar Hollow Reservoir, White Hall, VA. Stephen Matthews, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : The diverse forests of the eastern United States provide a multitude of benefits that enhance human well-being. Climate change has the potential to disrupt the very tree species and forest communities that provide these ecosystem services. Developing a framework that considers how projected changes in species habitats may respond to climate change is essential to exploring relative changes in some of the ecosystem services that forests provide.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Matthews, Stephen 
Research Location : Eastern Forests
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 640


Forests provide key ecosystem services, ranging from the specific production services of valuable tree species to broad services of forest communities that are integral for facilitating clean water and air. At all of these levels, climate change has the potential to affect forests that supports our well-being. Forest Service scientists worked to identify potential implications of climate change for ecosystem services, evaluating how both forest communities and individual tree species habitats may respond and how these changes relate to specific ecosystem services and the eastern United States. These scientists developed a Forest-Related Index of Climate Vulnerability based on models of 134 tree species distributions and their projected habitat responses by 2100. In addition to quantifying the relative climate change pressure, they showed how for important economic sectors such as maple syrup (sugar maple), or high quality timber species (black cherry) climate change risk may influence these species regionally. This approach is an essential first step towards summarizing how these relative changes can influence forest-related ecosystem services and how changes in tree species habitat may influence the maintenance of ecosystem processes.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Louis Iverson, Matthew Peters, and Anantha Prasad

Program Areas