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Individual Highlight

Seedlings of Most Tree Species in California, Oregon, and Washington are Shifting Toward Areas Colder Than Those Occupied by Mature Trees

Photo of Across forestlands on the West Coast, tree seedlings are migrating to areas cooler than the current range of mature trees. USDA Forest ServiceAcross forestlands on the West Coast, tree seedlings are migrating to areas cooler than the current range of mature trees. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Global warming is predicted to cause systematic changes in the distribution of tree species. Determining if and where the changes are occurring and estimating their magnitude is crucial to large-scale policy and management decisions. For trees, tracking the warming climate depends on seedling colonization of newly favorable areas.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Monleon, Vicente 
Research Location : California; Oregon; Washington
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 793

Summary

Forest Service scientists compared the distribution of seedlings and mature trees for most tree species in California, Oregon, and Washington. Across all forestlands in the region, the mean annual temperature of the range of seedlings is 0.120 degrees CelsiusC (32.216 degrees Fahrenheit) colder than that of the range of mature trees. Individual species followed the same pattern, except for some species common in California mixed conifer forest. For most species, the estimated shift is less than the increase in temperature during the last decades, suggesting that tree migration may be lagging temperature increases. The broad scale, variety of disturbance regimes, exhaustive sampling of tree species, and direct relationship between temperature response and a warming climate, provide strong evidence to attribute the observed shifts to climate change.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Oregon State University