OSU: Global warming prompts tree migration
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Lodgepole pine is a tree species at risk due to climate change, according to new research from Oregon State University.
A new report being released Thursday by Oregon State University has found what researchers are calling a migration of trees throughout the West —with some species disappearing from regions where they've thrived for centuries — due to global warming, insect attack diseases and fire.
Scientists found some tree species replacing others that are no longer well-adapted for the climate in true survival-of-the-fittest fashion.
"Some of these changes are already happening pretty fast and in some huge areas," said Richard Waring, professor emeritus at OSU and lead author of the study, in a press release. "We can't predict exactly which tree (species) will die or which one will take its place, but we can see the long-term trends and probabilities. The forest of our future are going to look quite different."
The greatest shifts in tree species are expected to be at the northern and southern extremes of the West — British Columbia and California.
An example would be once-common species such as lodgepole pine that is likely to be replaced by other more temperate tree species such as Douglas fir. Other forests are like to shift to a grass savannah or sagebrunch desert ecosystem.
The conclusions of the report were made using remote images and satellite imagery over a four-year period. The research compared 15 coniferous tree species that are common across the West in Canada and the United States. It looked into impacts on 34 different "eco-regions" such as the Columbia Plateau and the Yukon Highlands.
The study projected which tree species would be at highest risk in a future that's expected to be as much as 9 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer by 2080, with altered precipitation patterns.
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