Sunday, December 18, 2011

Drought affected aspens developing into sudden aspen decline

Nancy Houser in the Digital Journal: ...Science is now looking at how 50% of the aspen trees are dying off in areas of North America: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Over the years, the beautiful aspens have become known as the signature trees of the majestic Rockies, located at 9,000 feet high in the Grand Mesa. One of the most common trees in North America, it is also the most widely distributed.

Forestry reports that the aspen stands in Utah and Colorado are the most community dependent "keystone species," providing wildlife habitat, desirable scenery, livestock forage, specialty forest products, and understory biodiversity.

...By 2006, 150,000 acres of the Colorado aspen trees had become seriously damaged or had died off. The next year, the weakened acreage had more than doubled. Arizona surveys show that two national forests from 2000 to 20007 have lost 90% of their aspens in low elevation areas.

...Damage to the aspen forests are drought-induced, a condition which weakens the trees by pulling reserve energy from the roots, evolving as a global alarm that will soon escalate under current climate change projections. Global Change Biology has reported that large areas of drought-affected areas in western North America have led to the destruction of forests in southwestern United States....

Aspen trees in Colorado, shot by Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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