Canadian Forest Service Publications

Response of northeastern North American forests to climate change: will soil conditions constrain tree species migration? 2010. Lafleur, B.; Paré, D.; Munson, A.D.; Bergeron, Y. Environmental Reviews 18: 279-289.

Year: 2010

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 31787

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Plant species distribution and plant community composition vary along environmental gradients. At the continental scale, climate plays a major role in determining plant distribution, while at the local and regional scales vegetation patterns are more strongly related to edaphic and topographic factors. The projected global warming and alteration of the precipitation regime will influence tree physiology and phenology, and is likely to promote northward migration of tree species. However the influence of soil characteristics on tree species migration is not as well understood. Considering the broad tolerance of most tree species to variations in soil factors, soils should not represent a major constraint for the northward shift of tree species. However, locally or regionally, soil properties may constrain species migration. Thus, while climate change has the potential to induce a northward migration of tree species, local or regional soil properties may hinder their migratory response. These antagonistic forces are likely to slow down potential tree migration in response to climate change. Because tree species respond individualistically to climate variables and soil properties, new tree communities are likely to emerge from climate change.