Composition and carbon dynamics of forests in northeastern North America in a future, warmer world
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Increasing temperatures, precipitation extremes, and other anthropogenic influences (pollutant deposition, increasing carbon dioxide) will influence future forest composition and productivity in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. This synthesis of empirical and modeling studies includes tree DNA evidence suggesting tree migrations since the last glaciation were much slower, at least under postglacial conditions, than is needed to keep up with current and future climate warming. Exceedances of US and Canadian ozone air quality standards are apparent and offset CO2-induced gains in biomass and predispose trees to other stresses. The deposition of nitrogen and sulfate in the northeastern United States changes forest nutrient availability and retention, reduces reproductive success and frost hardiness, causes physical damage to leaf surfaces, and alters performance of forest pests and diseases. These interacting stresses may increase future tree declines and ecosystem disturbances during transition to a warmer climate. Recent modeling work predicts warmer climates will increase suitable habitat (not necessarily actual distribution) for most tree species in the northeastern United States. Species whose habitat is declining in the northeastern United States currently occur in Canadian forests and may expand northward with warming. Paleoecological studies suggest local factors may interact with, even overwhelm, climatic effects, causing lags and thresholds leading to sudden large shifts in vegetation.
Author Posting. © NRC Research Press, 2009. This article is posted here by permission of NRC Research Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39 (2009): 213-230, doi:10.1139/X08-185.