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Complex response of white pines to past environmental variability increases understanding of future vulnerability

Author(s): Virginia Iglesias, Teresa R. Krause, Cathy L. Whitlock
Year Published: 2015
Description:

Ecological niche models predict plant responses to climate change by circumscribing species distributions within a multivariate environmental framework. Most projections based on modern bioclimatic correlations imply that high-elevation species are likely to be extirpated from their current ranges as a result of rising growing-season temperatures in the coming decades. Paleoecological data spanning the last 15,000 years from the Greater Yellowstone region describe the response of vegetation to past climate variability and suggest that white pines, a taxon of special concern in the region, have been surprisingly resilient to high summer temperature and fire activity in the past. Moreover, the fossil record suggests that winter conditions and biotic interactions have been critical limiting variables for high-elevation conifers in the past and will likely be so in the future. This long-term perspective offers insights on species responses to a broader range of climate and associated ecosystem changes than can be observed at present and should be part of resource management and conservation planning for the future.

Citation: Iglesias, V.; Krause, T.R.; Whitlock, C. 2015. Complex response of white pines to past environmental variability increases understanding of future vulnerability. PLoS ONE. 10(4): e0124439. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124439
Topic(s): Fire & Future Climate
Ecosystem(s): Alpine forest/krummholz, Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 13522
Record updated: Apr 20, 2017