Research Roundup

Overviews of the climate change work happening at Forest Service research stations.
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Detecting recent broad-scale changes in forest biodiversity

Northern Research Station, Southern Research Station, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Climate change and other threats are likely to alter the composition of forests as species die out in some areas and move into others, which could alter the ecological function of forest communities. Scientists are using a new approach known as phylogenetic community analysis to measure forest biodiversity changes in the eastern United States.

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Effects of urban climate on land surface phenology

Southern Research Station, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

Researchers are studying urban climate drivers and their effects on land surface phenology variation to determine if a higher urban index (level of "urbanness") affects specific aspects of forest vegetation timing and development. Results of this study may yield urban index thresholds which could be used by urban planners to avoid altering the development of urban forest vegetation.

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Systematic assessment of coarse scale, national level and fine scale, special interest area critical load assessments

Rocky Mountain Research Station, Southern Research Station, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

This study proposes to develop a national map of critical pollutant loads for nitrogen and sulfur that also accounts for the combined influence of multiple pollutants (e.g., nitrogen and ozone) or the impact of non-critical load stresses (e.g., drought, insect, or disease) on forest ecosystem health. This project has been expanded to examine changes to critical acid loading due to climate change, resulting in several assessments.

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PINEMAP: Mapping the future of southern pine management in a changing world

Southern Research Station, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center

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The PINEMAP project integrates research, extension, and education to enable southern pine landowners to manage forests to increase carbon sequestration; increase efficiency of nitrogen and other fertilizer inputs; and adapt forest managment approaches to increase forest resilience and sustainability under variable climates.

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Carbon Implications of Poplar Energy Crops Throughout the Energy Supply Chain

Forest Products Laboratory, Northern Research Station

Woody production systems and conversion technologies are needed to: maintain healthy forests and ecosystems, create high paying manufacturing jobs, and meet local/regional energy demands. Poplars are dedicated energy crops that can be strategically placed in the landscape to conserve soil and water, recycle nutrients, and sequester carbon. However, key environmental and economic uncertainties preclude broad-scale production of biofuels/bioproducts from poplar wood. Therefore, building on decades of research conducted at our Institute and throughout the region, we are evaluating the fate of carbon in soils and woody biomass, soil greenhouse gas emissions, and conversion efficiency barriers throughout the energy supply chain.

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Mapping projected change in global and North America vegetation

Pacific Northwest Research Station

The MC1 model is routinely used in North America to predict vegetation impacts associated with climate-change projections to the year 2100, as well as associated changes to ecosystem services such as water availability and carbon sequestration. The MC1 user community spans a large number of international, federal, state, local, and nongovernmental organizations. Now, the most commonly requested summary map products from the global and North American MC1 simulations are available for viewing and download on the Databasin website.

                   John Kim
Projecting timing of budburst under different winter conditions

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Many plant species and different populations within species have evolved so that their spring budburst coincides with environmental conditions conducive to growth. Climate change has the potential to alter the signals that plants use, thereby changing the timing of budburst. Station scientists developed a model to predict the timing of budburst for populations of Douglas-fir, the major tree species in northwest forests. It can be used to help assess climate impacts on scales ranging from individual trees to the entire range of coast Douglas-fir.

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Synthesis of tree responses to climate change - Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Several decades of research exist on the potential responses of trees and forests to climate-related stresses. Researchers synthesized more than 400 research articles addressing physiological and ecological responses of trees and forests to variations in climate and associated stresses and disturbance agents. Although based on an international body of research, the synthesis highlights potential climate changes and responses from species and ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. It is organized around key themes: elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, temperature, precipitation, fire, pests, and their interactions, and discusses vulnerabilities and risks from a forestry management perspective. The authors identify options for silvicultural and genetic approaches to managing for forest adaptation.

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Understanding physical processes of tree development and tree response to warmer climate

Pacific Northwest Research Station

A tree undergoes many physical changes during its life. Leaf physiology, wood structure, mechanical properties, reproductive ability, and interactions with herbivores and pathogens are just some of the features that change as a seedling grows to maturity. Many of these changes are presumed to allow trees to acclimate to the environment and endure for millennia. This research endeavors to understand these processes in order to anticipate tree response to warmer climates.

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Changing climates present new threats to the conservation of forest genetic resources

Pacific Northwest Research Station

As climates change, populations of native trees may become maladapted and genetic diversity may be lost. This research highlights the importance of identifying species and populations that are vulnerable to climate change and other threats. It also identifies steps that may help protect and conserve those species and populations.

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