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Cooperation Leads to Continued Research on Tree Range Shifts in the Eastern U.S.

Photo of Blackgum trees are one of the species whose ranges may shift. Vern Wilkins,  Indiana UniversityBlackgum trees are one of the species whose ranges may shift. Vern Wilkins, Indiana UniversitySnapshot : In an attempt to understand the potential impact of climate change on tree species ranges in the eastern U.S., teams of researchers from the Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis program, Purdue University, and the University of Alabama have advanced tree range shift research by using broad-scale inventory data. The researchers were interested in documenting current changes in certain tree species populations along range boundaries in the eastern U.S.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Oswalt, Christopher M.  
Research Location : Knoxville, TN; Tuscaloosa, AL; West Lafayette, IN
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 742


The potential range response to projected climate change, based on suitable habitat, has been modeled and mapped for many eastern North American tree species. Model projections reveal drastic shifts in the spatial distribution for many of these species in accord with changing climatic conditions. Scientists from the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the Forest Service pioneered efforts to look for active range-shifts using broad-scale forest inventory data available from FIA. Recent cooperation with scientists from Purdue University and the University of Alabama have led to further understanding of the potential for using FIA data to identify active tree range shifts in the eastern U.S. The population dynamics of two species, sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and blackgum (Nysaa sylvatica), were found to have current range-shifts occurring.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Purdue University
  • University of Alabama