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Assessing and comparing risk to climate changes among forested locations: implications for ecosystem services

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Landscape Ecology. 29(2): 213-228.


Forests provide key ecosystem services (ES) and the extent to which the ES are realized varies spatially, with forest composition and cultural context, and in breadth, depending on the dominant tree species inhabiting an area. We address the question of how climate change may impact ES within the temperate and diverse forests of the eastern United States. We quantify the vulnerability to changes in forest habitat by 2100, based on the overall pressures of community change from an aggregation of current and potential future habitats for 134 tree species at each of 149 US Department of Defense installations. To do so, we derive an index, Forest-Related Index of Climate Vulnerability, composed of several indicators of vulnerability for each site. Further, a risk matrix (likelihood x consequences) provides a visual cue to compare vulnerabilities among species (example from Pennsylvania) or among sites [example for Acer saccharum (sugar maple) in Vermont vs. Kentucky]. Potential changes in specific ES can then be qualitatively examined. For example in Pennsylvania, the loss of the provisioning services (wood products) of Prunus serotina (black cherry) and Fraxinus americana (white ash) habitat projected for the future will not likely be compensated for by concomitant increases in Juniperus virginiana (redcedar) and Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine) habitat. Taken together, this approach provides a conceptual framework that allows for consideration of how potential changes in tree species habitats, as impacted by climate change, can be combined to explore relative changes in important ES that forests provide.


Climate change; Ecosystem services; Trees; Eastern United States; Forest composition; Prediction


Matthews, Stephen N.; Iverson, Louis R.; Peters, Matthew P.; Prasad, Anantha M.; Subburayalu, Sakthi. 2014. Assessing and comparing risk to climate changes among forested locations: implications for ecosystem services. Landscape Ecology. 29(2): 213-228.

Last updated on: April 1, 2014