Low elevations hold climate surprises

Contrary to expectations, climate change has had a significant effect
on mountain plants at low elevations, says a new study led by a UC
Davis researcher.

The information could guide future conservation efforts at local
scales by helping decision makers anticipate biological responses to
climate changes, said lead author Susan Harrison, a UC Davis
professor of environmental science and policy.

Harrison and scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and
the U.S. Geological Survey examined vegetation changes during the
past 60 years in the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon.

They found signs of increased drought stress in the low-elevation
forests (1,650 to 4,000 feet), but not at high elevations (4,100 to
6,900 feet). Climate change appeared to affect both logged and
unlogged forests at low elevations similarly.

“We were surprised to find such clear signals of climate change in
these plant communities, given all the other ecological changes that
may be going on in the region, such as logging and fire suppression,”
Harrison said.

The study was published online Monday (Oct. 25) in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences
.

It was funded by the National Science Foundation and by the U.S. Geological Survey Global Climate Change Program.

Additional information:

* Report abstract <http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/10/19/1006823107.abstract>

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