by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX) Sep 15, 2017
Bristlecone pine and limber pine trees in the Great Basin region are like two very gnarled, old men in a slow-motion race up the mountaintop, and climate change is the starting gun, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.
The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, shows that the tree line has been steadily moving upslope over the past 50 years in the Great Basin. The region extends from California's Sierra Nevada, across Nevada to Utah's Uinta Mountains. Its north and south are framed by the Columbia and Colorado rivers' watersheds.
The study also found that limber pine is successfully ? "leapfrogging" over bristlecone pine. They are growing in soils once almost completely dominated by bristlecone pine, and they are moving upslope at a faster rate than the bristlecone pine.
"It's jarring because limber pine is a species you normally see further downslope, not at tree line. So it's very odd to see it charging upslope and not see bristlecone charging upslope ahead of limber pine, or at least with it."
The study concludes that if bristlecone pine trees are unable to advance upslope because they are blocked by limber pine, bristlecones could face a reduction of their range and possibly local extinctions.
Earth's Oldest Living Trees
Both tree species have seen many climate changes during their time on Earth - from extremely warm periods to ice ages - and have slowly advanced across the landscape. Over millennia, bristlecone pine trees have moved from the lowlands of the Great Basin up to the current tree line. But, the study notes, neither bristlecone nor limber pine have ever experienced climate change and temperature increases as rapidly as what has been occurring in recent decades.
"The things we're doing today have legacy effects for thousands of years in the Great Basin," Smithers said. "When those trees do start to die, they won't likely be replaced because it's just too hot and dry."
The study suggests that land managers identify the specific bottlenecks for a species to live long enough to reproduce, and focus on that stage. For long-lived trees like bristlecone and limber pines, the bottleneck is at the time of their initial establishment, not hundreds and thousands of years into their adulthoods.
Geneva (AFP) Sept 14, 2017
An invasive beetle has driven North America's most widespread ash tree towards extinction, conservationists said Thursday, also warning of dramatic declines among several African antelope species. In an update to its "Red List" of threatened species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said six of North America's most prominent ash species were now "critically endangere ... read more
University of California - Davis
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application
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