Forest tree species and the impact of climate change and variability


The Canadian Forest Service's Climate change network long-term mission seeks to determine and assess the sensitivity of Canadian forests to climate change and provide scientific knowledge for formulating strategies for mitigating and/or adapting to changing 


  • Assess the sensitivity, acclimation and adaptation responses of natural and pedigree populations from the impact of climate change for at risk and/or keystone tree species.
  • Scale up results by modeling species response to different climate change scenarios.

Red spruce

  • Important timber species
  • In decline over much of its range
  • Low genetic variation compared to other conifers
  • Can hybridize with black spruce
  • Important component of Acadian old growth forest
  • A species at risk from human activities

Black spruce

  • Important pulp and paper species
  • Pioneer characteristics
  • Generally cold tolerant
  • Trans-Canadian species
  • Red spruce and black spruce hybrids
  • Can occur naturally, extent and role unknown
  • Little known about adaptive traits of hybrids

The same red spruce and black spruce are growing in various controlled environmental chambers and silvicultural conditions. 

Source material

  • Natural populations of both red spruce and black spruce from three provinces (ON, NB, NS) are compared.
  • Hybrids: controlled crosses to produce black spruce, red spruce and three intermediate types (0 [Sb], 25, 50, 75, 100 [Sr]).


Four main areas of study have been developed:

  • Elevated carbon dioxide research
  • Freezing tolerance research
  • Drought tolerance research
  • Advance productivity and environment specific yield research

Project status

  • On-going