Volume 7, Issue 2 - March/April 2014
Eastern Threat Center Highlights
New Guide Supports Management of Changing Southern Forests
Since 2010, collaborating scientists and land managers from across the South have pooled knowledge and expertise with one goal in mind: to provide a "state-of-the-science" analysis that can support forest management decision making through changing conditions. Their work under the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Management Options (CCAMMO) project, led by the Southern Research Station (SRS), has been published as a comprehensive guide for science-based efforts to reduce forest threats and ensure continued production of valuable goods and ecosystem services. Eastern Threat Center scientists co-authored several chapters in the CCAMMO book addressing water stress, wildfire, invasive species, carbon sequestration, and more.
Which Tree Species are Most at Risk in a Changing Climate?
A walk in the woods or a stroll on a tree-lined street could be a very different experience just a few decades from now. Higher temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and longer growing seasons predicted for the future could require that some tree species will have to move – or be moved – into new areas where habitat will be more suitable. Some tree species may be able to stay in place by adapting to new conditions, yet others may succumb to the pressures of climate change if they are unable to adapt.
In a recently published study, Center research ecologist Bill Hargrove and North Carolina State University cooperating scientist Kevin Potter described measures to project habitat changes for 172 North American tree species and predict which species are most at risk as part of a collaborative project known as Forecasts of Climate-Associated Shifts in Tree Species, or ForeCASTS. “Of all 172 tree species we analyzed, all but two are expected to lose suitable habitat by 2050,” says Potter. “These results may seem overwhelming, but this information can help land managers and decision makers prioritize tree species for conservation activities.”
Right: Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana), which grows on high-elevation slopes and ridges, is expected to lose areas of suitable habitat in a changing climate. Photo by Will Cook, www.carolinanature.com.
From Forests to Water Supplies, Researchers Evaluate Tools for Predicting Nitrogen Runoff
Plants require nitrogen to grow and thrive, and often receive a boost from applications of nitrogen-containing fertilizer. But increased plant growth and yield can be at the expense of water quality when fertilizer runs off into rivers, lakes, and streams. A group of researchers reviewed a series of models used to predict nitrogen’s movement from managed forests through the surrounding environment, identifying the strengths and limitations of each model. The researchers concluded that, given landscape and management complexities, no single model can adequately address nitrogen’s fate following fertilizer use in southern U.S. forests. Center research hydrologist Ge Sun is among the co-authors of this SRS-led study, and researchers tested one of the models using a Center research site in coastal North Carolina consisting of loblolly pine plantations.