Canadian Forest Service Publications

Hardiness zones and bioclimatic modelling of plant species distributions in North America. 2015. McKenney, D.W.; Pedlar, J.H.; Lawrence, K.: Papadopol, P.; Campbell, K. Acta Horticulturae 1085:139-148.

Year: 2015

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36572

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1085.24

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Plain Language Summary

The subject of potential species distributions has long been of interest to ecologists, agriculturalists, horticulturalists and gardeners. In practical terms, hardiness zones are intended to help define potential distribution of perennial plant species. The United States Department of Agriculture extreme minimum temperature model (and related map) has been a useful surrogate for plant hardiness and is widely used throughout North America. A Canadian plant hardiness map was developed and has become a standard and familiar source for Canadians. This model employed seven climatic parameters, and was thought to better represent the plant hardiness situation in Canada, where long winters and snow cover can dramatically affect plant survival and performance. The authors updated Canada’s hardiness zone maps using recent climate data and modern, mathematically sophisticated climate interpolation techniques. We briefly summarize some of the major changes in hardiness zones that have occurred in Canada over the last 50 years. We also briefly describe a North American plant hardiness project that involves the collation and bioclimatic analysis of plant observation data. We illustrate the relationship between the most recent hardiness zones and species distribution models using two representative woody species and show examples of projecting species’ range shifts under a changing climate.