Tree species are leap-frogging up mountains in reaction to climate change

By Adam Wernick
Jefferson Public Radio
October 27, 2017
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US West

Many species of trees tend to move to higher, cooler habitats in response to a warming climate. Now, research on two pine tree species in the western US Great Basin shows some species move faster than others. Brian Smithers, who led the research at the University of California, Davis, says when he wanted to look at how trees are responding to climate change, he realized the high-altitude tree line is a “really nice experimental spot to do that.” “It’s a real clear line of a species’ range edge because it’s controlled almost exclusively by temperature,” Smithers explains. …Somehow seeds from the limber pine are dispersing from well downslope to above the tree line and establishing faster than the bristlecone pine. The result is a downslope band of limber pine, then a band of bristlecone pine, and then another band upslope of limber pine.

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