ARIZONA NEWS

ASU researchers studying how to preserve tree species amid climate change

Nov 9, 2013, 8:44 AM

TEMPE, Ariz. — Two researchers at Arizona State University are aiming to help officials manage trees based on how different types are affected by climate change.

Janet Franklin, a geography professor, and Pep Serra-Diaz, a postdoctoral researcher, are using computer models to study how quickly a tree species and its habitat will be exposed to climate change. That information is used to locate areas with specific elevations and latitudes where trees could survive and repopulate.

“This is information that would hopefully be useful to foresters, natural resource (agencies and) policymakers because they could say, ‘OK, here’s a region where the tree or this forest may not be at as much risk of climate change … where we might want to focus our management attention,'” Franklin said.

Serra-Diaz was the lead author of a peer-reviewed article that appeared in the journal Diversity and Distributions. Franklin and researchers from other universities were co-authors.

The role of both ASU researchers was computer modeling; Serra-Diaz focused on mathematical data, while Franklin specialized in spatial and geographical data.

The study is part of the collaborative “Do microenvironments govern macroecology?” project, which was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation. The project also involves the U.S. Geological Survey, the Desert Research Institute and Frank Davis, a professor at UC Santa Barbara, among other professors, Franklin said.

The study’s main goal is checking exposure patterns at a specific forest location, in this case along the west coast of California, and expanding them to a global level, Serra-Diaz said.

But each tree species differs in how it is exposed and how quickly that exposure takes place, even if different species are in similar locations, Serra-Diaz said.

“What we mean by exposure is how the conditions will change with respect to what the species is used to,” he said. “We need to know how the species reacts and (its) capacity to adapt.”

Macro-level data could hide some small areas, such as cooler mountain valleys, where temperatures differ and a tree species might be better able to survive, Serra-Diaz said.

Franklin is also working on a separate study with Davis from UC Santa Barbara that expands upon the idea of finding those refuges among different terrains in California’s mountain ranges.

Pine and oak seedlings were planted in experimental gardens at different elevations to see which location and temperature would provide the most suitable living conditions when the climate changes, Franklin said.

“Our hypothesis is that the seedling stage is the vulnerable stage in the forest,” she said.

The biggest problem facing the migration of tree populations in anticipation of climate change is that trees can’t just move, Franklin said.

“The way a plant migrates is that a seed falls or gets carried to a new place and progressively it only survives in the place that’s becoming climatically suitable,” she added.

Because trees have previously shifted or migrated during ice ages, the study compared the temperature increases of those climate changes with future ones.

“It’s a good analog to study the past to anticipate what might happen in the future, but there’s a catch: The anthropogenic global warming is projected to happen much more quickly,” Franklin said.

While a global temperature change of 10 degrees might have taken tens of thousands of years in the past, that same temperature change now is projected to occur in less than 100 years, she said.

Human and agricultural use of land has also fragmented it to a point of difficult comparison between then and now, Franklin said.

“The problem for ecosystems is this very compressed timescale and the problem for people is the ecosystem services that we expect from those forests,” she said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A graphic with photos and a description of Shawn Woodruff, whose body was found dead in a Buckeye l...

KTAR.com

Police identify body found in Valley landfill, trying to determine cause of death

Authorities have identified a body found in a West Valley landfill last week and are asking the public for help with the death investigation.

2 hours ago

Kari Lake looks at the crowd to arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, C...

Jim Sharpe

Arizona US Senate candidate Kari Lake wants you to do what?!?

KTAR News host Jim Sharpe believes Kari Lake's declaration her supporters should strap on a Glock to prepare for 2024 is dangerous.

3 hours ago

Follow @suelenrivera...

SuElen Rivera

$4.9 million helibase opens in northern Arizona to help mitigate wildfires

The latest state-of-the-art helibase recently opened in northern Arizona to help with wildfire mitigation efforts.

4 hours ago

Stock image of a bathtub faucet. An Arizona man pleaded guilty on Monday, April 15, 2024, to killin...

KTAR.com

Arizona man pleads guilty to murder after holding child’s face under running bathtub faucet

An Arizona man pleaded guilty Monday to killing a 6-year-old child in a bathtub in 2019, authorities announced.

5 hours ago

Cynthia Drager opened the Three Dog Bakery in Chandler, Arizona, on Feb. 9, 2024....

Kevin Stone

Woof, there it is: Three Dog Bakery celebrating recent opening in East Valley

Three Dog Bakery is celebrating its recent opening in the East Valley with five days of tail-wagging activities this week.

6 hours ago

Two Tucson men sentenced after highway death of 17-year-old...

KTAR.com

Two Arizona human smugglers sentenced for death of migrant

Two Tucson men were sentenced last month for their roles in the death of a 17-year-old migrant in 2022, authorities said.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

ASU researchers studying how to preserve tree species amid climate change