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Hardwood-Softwood Mixtures for Future Forests in Eastern North America: Assessing Suitability to Projected Climate Change

Photo of Examples of mixedwood types in eastern North America: A) shortleaf pine – oak forest in southern Missouri (credit: Missouri Department of Conservation); B) white pine – red oak forest in southern Maine (credit: Justin Waskiewicz); C) spruce – fir – hardwood forest in Quebec (credit: Patricia Raymond); D) hemlock – hardwood forest in northern Wisconsin. Kate Gerndt.Examples of mixedwood types in eastern North America: A) shortleaf pine – oak forest in southern Missouri (credit: Missouri Department of Conservation); B) white pine – red oak forest in southern Maine (credit: Justin Waskiewicz); C) spruce – fir – hardwood forest in Quebec (credit: Patricia Raymond); D) hemlock – hardwood forest in northern Wisconsin. Kate Gerndt.Snapshot : Despite growing interest in management strategies for climate change adaptation, there are few methods for assessing the ability of stands to endure or adapt to projected future climates. Forest Service scientists developed a means for assigning climate “compatibility” and “adaptability” scores to stands for assessing the suitability of tree species for projected climate scenarios. They used these scores to determine if mixed hardwood-softwood stands or “mixedwoods” were better suited to projected future climates than pure hardwood or pure softwood stands.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kabrick, JohnDey, Daniel C., Dr.
Kenefic, Laura S. Kern, Christel C.
Clark, Ken 
Research Location : Eastern North America
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 965

Summary

Forest management agencies are increasingly interested in establishing desired future conditions that are compatible with projected changes in climate. Maintaining, conserving, or restoring tree species diversity and enhancing carbon stocks are often identified as important climate mitigation strategies. Mixed hardwood-softwood stands or “mixedwoods” are often structurally and compositionally diverse because of the differing shade tolerances, growth rates, longevities, phenology, and crown and root structure of the constituent species. There has long been interest in the benefits of mixedwoods because of their potential to produce a greater timber volume or biomass, to provide more diverse habitats, and to be more resistant or resilient to contemporary pests and pathogen than pure stands. They also may be better suited for projected climates although assessing this has remained a challenge. They adapted a method for assessing the compatibility and adaptability of contemporary mixedwood stands to projected climate scenarios. Their assessment suggests that some mixedwoods are more compatible with projected future climates than are others but that all of the mixedwoods that they examined appeared to be better adapted than pure softwood stands.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Gouvernement du Québec, Ministère des Forêts
  • University of Missouri
  • University of New Brunswick
  • University of Vermont

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