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Tree Species May Need Help in Northern States

Tuesday, March 14, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sharon Leach
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Climate Impact in Minnesota and Wisconsin Affects Tree Species

Trees 'cannot walk,' so people might have to move them

Published: Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin will have a hard time adapting to shifting climate patterns, a study has found.

The Woods Hole Research Center found that balsam fir, quaking aspen and red spruce are particularly vulnerable to climate change. These trees won't be able to survive warming conditions without a helping hand.

"Trees, after all, cannot walk. They must disperse seeds that, in turn, establish, grow and reproduce. The pace of climate change threatens to rapidly overtake this migration, and landscapes fragmented by humans present even more challenges," said Brendan Rogers, lead author of the study.

The study hopes to resolve the debate of whether human intervention is required to save vulnerable tree species in national parks — a policy that the National Park Service has avoided so far. Lee Frelich, director at the Center for Forest Ecology at the University of Minnesota, said that changing this policy would be vital for areas like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as temperatures increase.

"We know white pines can handle warmer temperatures because we know they can thrive in southeastern Minnesota. But will we need to move those southern ecotypes north? Or will the Boundary Waters white pines be able to adapt?" he said (John Myers, Pioneer Press, March 11).