Monday, July 16, 2007

Global warming impact on trees studied

Science Daily, via UPI: The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a research project to determine how differing species of pine trees cope with global climate change.

Researchers led by University of California-Merced Professor Lara Kueppers are using a $2.9 million grant from the department's Program for Ecosystem Research to establish research plots in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Kueppers and her colleagues from the University of California -Berkeley, the University of Colorado, Idaho State University and the U.S. Forest Service will create manipulated-climate environments for growing two species of pine trees through their seedling stage. The scientists will change the temperature and moisture levels to see how the young trees respond to different conditions.

"As we face global climate change, one of the biggest ecological questions is how species will be reorganized," Kueppers said. "Species have ranges constrained by climate. We're hoping to determine how those ranges will be affected and whether species can respond to climate change fast enough to survive or need to migrate, since projected global warming is much faster than historical, natural changes."

The project involving Whitebark Pine and possibly Limber Pine seedlings is being coordinated by University of California -Merced's Sierra Nevada Research Institute.

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