Volume 7, Issue 5 - November/December 2014
Eastern Threat Center Highlights
ForWarn Included in National Climate Toolkit
ForWarn, the satellite-based forest disturbance monitoring system developed by the Eastern and Western Threat Centers and partners, was selected as one of the “top 25” tools included in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. Recently launched for the White House by an interagency team of members from the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior, NOAA, and others, the Toolkit “provides resources and a framework for understanding and addressing the climate issues that impact people and their communities.” Read more in CompassLive...
Landscape Comparison Technique Bridges Data Gaps in Global Forest Monitoring
To understand how forests are responding to global change, a global effort is required. A vast forest research network, known as the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO), is advancing this understanding with standardized forest monitoring activities in 59 forests in 24 countries across the world. Since data are not available in every country, researchers must employ methods to reach large-scale conclusions about changing forests. Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Bill Hargrove and partners have contributed to CTFS-ForestGEO with a technique developed to compare similar landscapes based on climate, soils, and topography. Their work has enabled a description of the forest types represented (or underrepresented) in the CTFS-ForestGEO network’s findings, which have been published in the journal Global Change Biology and summarized in a Smithsonian news release.
Above: Collaborating researchers developed a technique to compare similar landscapes, known as the Landscape Characterization and Representativeness Analysis, and created maps of global forest types.
The Role of Humans in U.S. Plant Invasions
by Zoё Hoyle
As exotic introduced plants spread into areas where they weren’t wanted, plant biologists and others looked closely at the effects of human activities on plant hybridization. Over half a century ago, two scientists came up with the “disturbance hypothesis,” which proposes that disturbances from human activities promote hybridization by creating habitats hybrids can persist in. Though the hypothesis is widely accepted and proven in small-scale studies, the connection between human disturbance and hybridization hasn’t been satisfactorily corroborated at regional or national scales. Until now, that is.
Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Qinfeng Guo analyzed huge datasets from plant, population, weather, and other sources to reveal that hotspots of hybrid plants occur in areas with large human populations and with many years of European settlement, supporting the disturbance hypothesis. In an article recently published in the journal Biodiversity Research, Guo reports findings from his study, which is the first to analyze the richness and distribution of hybrid plants at the county level across the contiguous United States. Read more in CompassLive...
Right: Bell’s honeysuckle is a hybrid between two exotics. Unlike many exotic hybrids, it is included on the invasive plants lists of 14 states. Photo by Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org.