A new study of tree populations in the continental United States, published this month in Science Advances, pokes at the conventional wisdom about climate change and its effect on forests.
While ecologists have generally believed that cold-adapted species will survive the planet’s warming by moving farther north and higher in elevation, the study by scientists at Purdue and North Carolina State universities showed they’re also migrating west.
Using data from the U.S. Forest Service’s Inventory and Analysis program, reearchers mapped the distribution of 86 tree species common to eastern U.S. forests, including sugar maple, white oaks and American hollies.
Over the last 30 years, 73 percent of those species shifted their so-called “abundance centers” to the west, of which 65 percent were significantly significant. Meanwhile, 62 percent of the species migrated poleward, of which 55 percent were statistically significant. [Read more…]