Slow trees and climate change: Why bristlecone pine will still outlive you

By Jared Farmer – Stony Brook University
Los Angeles Times
October 12, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

In a time of relentless change, it’s soothing to contemplate deeply rooted, long-lived trees. But now our climate of uncertainty affects even Great Basin bristlecone pine, Pinus longaeva, the species with the world’s oldest known individuals. How should we respond? With alarm, indifference or something else? Recently, a team of botanists published an article on “divergent responses of tree species and life stages to climatic warming in Great Basin subalpine forests.” In the White Mountains of eastern California, tree lines are ascending. Bristlecone pines have been less successful at colonizing the new growth zone than neighboring limber pines. The scientists described limbers “leapfrogging” bristlecones “in slow motion.” Over time, P. longaeva could face “overall range contraction and possibly local extirpations.”

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