Monday, December 14, 2015

How Trees Try to Cope With Climate Change

[Discovery] Imagine that you’re lost in a desert, or some other inhospitable environment. You’ve got two choices. One is to stay in place and conserve supplies and water, in order to make them last. The other is to push on tenaciously and hope that you find a way out of your predicament.
As it turns out, trees are like that too, when it comes to coping with the hotter, drier environment created by climate change. In a new article in the journal Global Change Biology, University of Washington researchers studied two common tree species in southwestern Colorado, and found that each had developed a different survival strategy.
“We really wanted to identify the entire suite of strategies that a plant can use to grow in drier environments, as well as which of these strategies each tree would employ,” UW biology professor  Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, who co-authored the article with graduate student Leander Anderegg, said in a press release.
In the summer of 2014, the two researchers studied the slopes of the La Plata Mountains in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest, where a drought-ravaged ecosystem that’s become 1 degree Fahrenheit hotter over the past 30 years is putting stress on trees.
One of the species under pressure is the ponderosa pine, whose habitat at the lower levels overlaps with that of the trembling aspens, a tree that predominates further up the mountainside. Read More