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Study: Seedlings and Climate Averages

October 23, 2015
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Tree seedling

Environmental projections using averaged climate data may be underestimating the potential for new trees to get established, says a new study in the journal Ecography, led by HF post-doctoral fellow Pep Serra-Diaz. 

Tree seedlings pave the way for tree species to shift their ranges over time; they colonize new territories and ensure long-term population viability. Seedlings are also more sensitive to changing environmental conditions than mature trees. 

Serra-Diaz's team used microclimatic modeling and an experiment on seedling survival to investigate how well seedlings survive in shorter-term climate windows. Their results showed that potential new areas of tree establishment may be overlooked in environmental projections if climate conditions are averaged, as they often are, over decades.

They recommend that projections of forest species distributions seek to better incorporate the nuanced ways trees experience climate in different life stages.




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