Motive Project

Article alert: Monitoring and managing responses to climate change at the retreating range edge of forest trees

by: Ulla Vänttinen

Jump, A. S., Cavin, L., Hunter, P.D., 2010. Monitoring and managing responses to climate change at the retreating range edge of forest trees. Journal of Environmental Monitoring 12 (10), pp. 1791-1798.


Rising temperatures and increasing drought severity linked to global climate change are negatively impacting forest growth and function at the equatorial range edge of species distributions. Rapid dieback and range retractions are predicted to occur in many areas as temperatures continue to rise. Despite widespread negative impacts at the ecosystem level, equatorial range edges are not well studied, and their responses to climate change are poorly understood. Effective monitoring of tree responses to climate in these regions is of critical importance in order to predict and manage threats to populations. Remote sensing of impacts on forests can be combined with ground-based assessment of environmental and ecological changes to identify populations most at risk. Modelling may be useful as a 'first-filter' to identify populations of concern but, together with many remote sensing methods, often lacks adequate resolution for application at the range edge. A multidisciplinary approach, combining remote observation with targeted ground-based monitoring of local susceptible and resistant populations, is therefore required. Once at-risk regions have been identified, management can be adapted to reduce immediate risks in priority populations, and promote long-term adaptation to change. However, management to protect forest ecosystem function may be preferable where the maintenance of historical species assemblages is no longer viable.

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