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Maintaining forest diversity in a changing climate: A geophysical approach

Posted date: September 19, 2014
Publication Year: 
2014
Authors: Anderson, Mark; Johnson, Nels; Bearer, Scott
Publication Series: 
Proceedings (P)
Source: In: Sample, V. Alaric; Bixler, R. Patrick, eds. Forest conservation and management in the Anthropocene: Conference proceedings. Proceedings. RMRS-P-71. Fort Collins, CO: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 273-296.
Note: This article is part of a larger document.

Abstract

Forest conservationists need a method to conserve the maximum amount of biological diversity while allowing species and communities to rearrange in response to a continually changing climate. Here, we develop such an approach for northeastern North America. First we characterize and categorize forest blocks based on their geology, landforms, and elevation zones. Next, for each distinct geophysical combination we locate the forest blocks with the highest amount of internally connected natural cover, and that have complex topography and large elevation ranges increasing their micro-climatic buffering. We hypothesized that these blocks have the greatest resilience to climate change, and will maintain a diversity of species and processes into the future. Finally we identify a network of high scoring blocks representing all geophysical settings and we examine the potential connections among and between them to prioritize linkages where maintaining natural covers would likely facilitate important regional movements. By focusing on the representation of physical diversity instead of on the current species composition, we identify a network of sites that will represent the full spectrum of forest diversity both now and into the future. We advocate that this geophysical approach to identifying a network of core forest areas and key connectors be used to inform and augment the traditional conservation focus on large forest reserves nested within a matrix of wellmanaged forest.

Citation

Anderson, Mark; Johnson, Nels; Bearer, Scott. 2014. Maintaining forest diversity in a changing climate: A geophysical approach. In: Sample, V. Alaric; Bixler, R. Patrick, eds. Forest conservation and management in the Anthropocene: Conference proceedings. Proceedings. RMRS-P-71. Fort Collins, CO: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 273-296.