Canadian Forest Service Publications

Response of Northern Populations of Black Spruce and Jack Pine to Southward Seed Transfers: Implications for Climate Change. Pedlar, J.H., McKenney, D.W., Pengxin, L., Thomson, A., Atmosphere 2021, 12, 1363

Year: 2021

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 40476

Language: English

Series: Internal Report (GLFC - Sault Ste. Marie)

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: atmos12101363

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Plain Language Summary

We explored how northern populations of black spruce and jack pine trees are expected to respond to climate change. To do this we used data from historical provenance studies, which involve the measurement of growth and survival over time of various seed sources (provenances) planted at multiple test sites (common gardens) across the range of a species. Regression analyses indicated that northern populations (defined as those growing north of 52°N) grew better when moved to warmer planting sites. For example, peak growth was associated with seed transfers to environments with mean annual temperatures 2.2 and 3.6°C warmer than seed source origin for black spruce and jack pine, respectively. These findings imply that northern tree populations harbor a significant amount of resilience to climate warming. However, survival responses told a different story, with both species exhibiting reduced survival rates when moved to warmer and drier environments. Together with the growth-based results, these findings suggest that the warmer and drier conditions expected across much of northern Canada under climate change may reduce survival, but surviving trees may grow at a faster rate up until a certain magnitude of climate warming has been reached. We note that all relationships had high levels of unexplained variation, underlining the many factors that may influence provenance study outcomes and the challenges in predicting tree responses to climate change. These findings, in combination with results from tree-ring and satellite-based studies, help elucidate climate change outcomes for northern tree populations.