Monday, November 14, 2016
Following up on yesterdays Post regarding the "homogenization and simplification" of our eastern woodlands due to land clearing activities since Europeans arrived on our shores, we expand that discussion today to include the additional forest debilitating factor of climate change............... When factored into forest felling and other land altering human endeavors, this "witches brew" of anthropogenesis is putting both the indigenous plant and animal life of our woodlands at great risk....................According to the U.S Dept. of Agriculture and Forest Service most recent research, "Climate change affects the distribution and abundance of many wildlife species in the region through changes in habitat, food availability, thermal tolerances, species interactions such as competition, and susceptibility to parasites and disease".................... "Birds are the most studied northeastern taxa"................. "Twenty-seven of the 38 bird species for which we have adequate long-term records have expanded their ranges predominantly in a northward direction"................. "There is some evidence to suggest that novel species, including pests and pathogens, may be more adept at adjusting to changing climatic conditions, enhancing their competitive ability relative to native species"
Changing Climate, Changing Forests: The Impacts of Climate Change on Forests of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada
Lindsey Rustad, John Campbell, Jeffrey S. Dukes, Thomas Huntington, Kathy Fallon Lambert, Jacqueline Mohan, and Nicholas Rodenhouse
Manuscript received for publication 22 September 2011 Published by: For additional copies: U.S. FOREST SERVICE U.S. Forest Service 11 CAMPUS BLVD SUITE 200 Publications Distribution NEWTOWN SQUARE PA 19073 359 Main Road Delaware, OH 43015-8640 Fax: (740)368-0152 July 2012 Email: email@example.com
Abstract: Decades of study on climatic change and its direct and indirect effects on forest ecosystems provide important insights for forest science, management, and policy. A synthesis of recent research from the northeastern United States and eastern Canada shows that the climate of the region has become warmer and wetter over the past 100 years and that there are more extreme precipitation events. Greater change is projected in the future. The amount of projected future change depends on the emissions scenarios used.
Beech woodlands to become Oak woodlands?
Tree species composition of northeast forests has shifted slowly in response to climate for thousands of years. However, current human-accelerated climate change is much more rapid and it is unclear how forests will respond to large changes in suitable habitat. Projections indicate significant declines in suitable habitat for spruce-fir forests and expansion of suitable habitat for oak-dominated forests. Productivity gains that might result from extended growing seasons and carbon dioxide and nitrogen fertilization may be offset by productivity losses associated with the disruption of species assemblages and concurrent stresses associated with potential increases in atmospheric deposition of pollutants, forest fragmentation, and nuisance species.
Investigations of links to water and nutrient cycling suggest that changes in evapotranspiration, soil respiration, and mineralization rates could result in significant alterations of key ecosystem processes. Climate change affects the distribution and abundance of many wildlife species in the region through changes in habitat, food availability, thermal tolerances, species interactions such as competition, and susceptibility to parasites and disease. Birds are the most studied northeastern taxa. Twenty-seven of the 38 bird species for which we have adequate long-term records have expanded their ranges predominantly in a northward direction. There is some evidence to suggest that novel species, including pests and pathogens, may be more adept at adjusting to changing climatic conditions, enhancing their competitive ability relative to native species. With the accumulating evidence of climate change and its potential effects, forest stewardship efforts would benefit from integrating climate mitigation and adaptation options in conservation and management plans
HOW IS WILDLIFE IN NORTHEAST FORESTS RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE?
Summary Climate affects wildlife through changes in the quality and distribution of habitat, the availability of food, the abundance of parasites and diseases, and the incidence of stress from heat and drought. Ecological specialists and animals whose populations are already declining due to other stressors will be most vulnerable. Species with restricted ranges, species restricted to a single habitat, and species with small isolated populations will be particularly at risk, and are most likely to be affected by the smallest amount of change.
In recent decades, climate change has already affected the distribution and abundance of many species. For example, detailed historical information indicates that the ranges of many bird species are already changing and that there will be substantial gains and losses in the future, predominantly among migratory bird species, under both high and low emissions scenarios.
Native Wildlife: Climate affects the native wildlife of forests in the Northeast at all levels of organization, from the physiology of individual animals to changes at the population level. Given the wide range of potential impacts, scientists often focus on specific taxa such as mammals, amphibians, insects, and birds. Our best evidence of climate change impacts on wildlife comes from longterm studies of birds, and we focus on them in this section. Potential effects on mammals will also be disussed.
Moose Large mammals such as moose may be affected by climate change in dif erent ways than small mammals such as bats. Moose are well adapted to cold temperatures and intolerant of heat. This is true both in summer and winter. Their respiration rates (and energy demands) increase when temperatures exceed 57 °F (14 °C) in summer and 23 °F (-5.1 °C) in winter (Renecker and Hudson 1986). In addition, during hot summers they reduce food intake and can lose body weight.
Warming temperatures could shift the lower latitudinal range limit of moose northwards, excluding moose from southern areas of the Northeast. In addition, reductions in snow depth associated with winter warming may bring moose into more contact with white-tailed deer which 30 Changing Climate, Changing Forests: The Impacts of Climate Change on Forests of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada carry a brain parasite (a meningeal parasite) that can be lethal to moose. Deer avoid areas with permanent heavy snow covers, which were the traditional habitat of moose. As snow depth declines with climate change, moose and deer habitat may increasingly overlap, and more moose may die from the brain parasite.
Winter Tic infestation on Moose-severe hair loss and ultimate body weight loss leading to death
Birds: Observed Changes Birds, more than any other taxonomic group, have been the focus of climate change research in the Northeast. These studies draw from decades of bird surveys and indicate there have been measureable changes in the timing of key events such as migration, the distribution and abundance of species, and the amount and quality of habitat for forest birds in the Northeast. Timing of Key Events and Abundance Migratory birds are arriving earlier and breeding earlier in response to recent climate change (e.g., Waite and Strickland 2006). It is unknown how this will affect reproduction rates and survival and therefore the overall size of these bird populations.
Abundance: In addition to changes in timing, many bird species have recently increased or decreased their abundance. Among resident birds (i.e., those that remain in the Northeast year round), 15 of 25 species that were studied are increasing in abundance, which might be expected if abundance was limited by winter climate. Five of the ten remaining species (including many highly valued species such as ruffed grouse) are declining in abundance, and the other five show no detectable trends. In contrast to the residents, the short-distance migrants and neotropical migrants show no overall trends in abundance: the number of increasing species is roughly equal to the number of decreasing species in each group
The Boreal Forest dwelling Gray Jay is at risk due to climate change
Adaptation: Conserve Stepping Stones, Corridors and Refuges Climate adaptation will benefit from a landscape-scale conservation perspective that explicitly considers how the individual parcels of conserved land link to one another across large regions. Ecologists believe that “stepping stones”, which are corridors and habitat islands that link larger reserves, will aid the movement of wildlife and plants under changing climate regimes (Heinz Center 2008).
The management of corridors in large landscapes requires focusing on the areas that are likely to be important dispersal pathways (Carroll 2005). Scientists have long recognized that some environments are more buffered against climate change than others (Millar et al. 2007). During periods of historical change, these places act as refuges. Refuges provide conditions where plant and animal populations are able to persist due in part to the ability of these local sites to escape the extremes of regional climate change impacts (Millar et al. 2007). Conserving known refuges would allow populations to persist and eventually colonize new suitable areas, if conditions permit. Given that most forest land in the Northeast is privately owned, the effectiveness of these landscape-scale strategies depends directly on the cooperation and engagement of the hundreds of thousands of family forest owners across the region.
Posted by Rick Meril at 9:51 PM