This project aims to quantify the range in variability in forest dynamics and climate responses for range-margin populations of Pinus banksiana and Picea mariana so as to generate management guidelines for conserving these forests on the landscape in an uncertain climatic future. These species are the cornerstone for several upland and lowland habitat types on the western edge of the Northeast CSC and are particularly vulnerable to future changes in climate and disturbance regimes. This project takes advantage of extensive dendrochronological and forest community data to determine the drivers and future dynamics of key demographic processes for these tree species.
Detailed dendrochronological reconstructions of the age-structure and growth patterns of range-margin Pinus bansksiana forests indicate largely uneven-aged populations that have recruited in response to low intensity surface fires followed by favorable climate regimes. Results highlight the importance of early season moisture surpluses, as quantified by precipitation/potential evapotranspiration, to long-term recruitment and survival of this species at this portion of its range. Successional patterns for these range margin Pinus populations indicate a shift towards oak-dominated woodlands with little to no conifer component and indicate the potential for regional decline in this forest type with fire suppression and shifts towards drier climate conditions. Assessments of the impacts of a rare, stand-replacing fire event on range-margin peatland forest habitats also indicate the potential for phase shifts following such events. In particular, Sphagnum peat was consumed to down to the water table in many tamarack-dominated areas experiencing high severity fire impacts resulting in loss of tree cover and a shift to cattail-dominated habitats. These dynamics may become increasingly common in light of predicted increases in drought for this portion of the NECSC with forested peatland communities respresenting one of the most vulnerable habitats to climate change impacts in the region. Moreover, assessments of forest regeneration in areas impacted by eastern larch beelte in these lowland communities indicate little to no tree regeneration in areas not experiencing follow up seeding treatments. These results suggest this the recent outbreaks of this native bark beetle may compound drought impacts on these systems.
The deliverables from these projects will address stakeholder needs related to developing forest management and conservation strategies that confer resistance and reslience to climate change and disturbance impacts. In addition, work is identifying conservation priorities as it relates to potential refugia for spruce-fir obligate bird species. Beyond scientific publications, projects are focused on developing management recommendations at spatially relevant scales for assisting natural resource management decisions related to climate change impacts in the region. These recommendations will be integrated into on-line platforms and shared via continuing education offerings, including workshops and field tours.
- Woodall, C.W., K. Zhu, J.A. Westfall, C.M. Oswalt, A.W. D’Amato, B.F. Walters, H.E. Lintz. 2013. Assessing the stability of tree ranges and influence of disturbance in eastern US forests. Forest Ecology and Management 291: 172-180.
- Russell, M., C. Woodall, S. Fraver, and A.W. D’Amato. 2013. Estimates of downed woody debris decay class transitions for forests across the eastern United States. Ecological Modeling 251: 22-31.
- Foster, J.R., A.W. D’Amato, and J. Bradford. 2014. Looking for age-related growth decline in natural forests: biomass patterns from tree rings and simulated mortality. Oecologia 175: 363-174
- D’Amato, A.W., J. Bradford, S. Fraver, and B. Palik. 2013. Effects of thinning on drought vulnerability and climate response in north temperate forest ecosystems. Ecological Applications 23: 1735-1742.
- Bradford, J.B., N.R. Jensen, G.M. Domke, and A.W. D’Amato. 2013. Potential increases in natural disturbance rates could offset forest management impacts on ecosystem carbon stocks. Forest Ecology and Management 308: 178-187.
- Fraver, S., A. Milo, J. Bradford, A.W. D’Amato, L. Kenefic, B. Palik, C. Woodall, and J. Brissette. 2013. Woody debris volume depletion through decay: implications for biomass and carbon accounting. Ecosystems 16: 1262-1272.
- Reinikainen, M.R., A.W. D’Amato, J. Bradford, and S. Fraver. 2014. Influence of stocking, site quality, stand age, low-severity canopy disturbance, and forest composition on sub-boreal aspen mixedwood carbon stocks. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 44: 230-242.
- Russell, M.B., C.W. Woodall, S. Fraver, A.W. D’Amato, G.M. Domke, and K.E. Skog. 2014. Residence time and decay for downed woody debris biomass/carbon in eastern US forests. Ecosystems 17: 765–777.
- Gill, K.G. 2014. Variation in jack pine stand dynamics and climate response within range margin populations in north central Minnesota. Master's Thesis, University of Minnesota.
- Gill, K.G., A.W. D'Amato, and S. Fraver. 2015. Multiple developmental pathways for range-margin Pinus banksiana forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 46: 200-214.
- Gill, K.G., A.W. D'Amato, and S. Fraver, 2013. Quantifying the range in variation in climate response and stand dynamics within range-margin jack pine (Pinus banksiana) populations in north-central Minnesota, USA. Graduate Climate Conference, Wood's Hole, MA. November 2.
- D'Amato, A.W. 2014. Developing forest adaptation strategies for northern forests in an uncertain future. Northeast Climate Science Center Fall Webinar Series. October 1.
- D'Amato, A.W. 2014. Long-term structural and compositional development of fire-origin red pine forests in north-central Minnesota. Lake States Fire Consortium Webinar Series. November 20.
- Gill, K.G., A.W. D'Amato, and S. Fraver. 2015. Structure and dynamics of jack pine forests in central Minnesota. Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative Wildlife and Forest Research Review. Cloquet, MN. February 24.
- D'Amato, A.W., S. Fraver, J.B. Bradford, and B.J. Palik. 2015. Salvage logging within the context of interacting disturbances in sub-boreal pine systems. Symposium on the Ecological and Sivilcultural Consequences of Disturbance and Salvage Logging on the Sustainability and Biodiversity of Forest Ecosystems. Powdermill Nature Reserve, Rector, PA. May 31.
- Gill, K.G., A.W. D'Amato, S.Fraver, J. Almendinger, N. Aaseng. 2015. Structure and dynamics of range margin Pinus banksiana populations in Minnestoa, USA. North American Forest Ecology Workshop, Veracruz, Mexico. June 15.
- Additional Stakeholders: State and federal forest managers in the western Lake States (MI, MN, WI)
- Rowe, E.R., A.W. D'Amato, B.J. Palik, and J.A. Almendinger. In review. Early response of ground layer plant communities to wildfire and harvesting disturbance in forested peatland ecosystems in northern Minnesota, USA. Forest Ecology and Management.
- News: Jack Pine Forest Dynamics and Climate Adaptation in the Upper Great Lakes Region. May 4, 2015.