A climate transition zone - drought and forest response in northern California

Authors: Rosemary Sherriff*, Humboldt State University
Topics: Biogeography, Environmental Science, Global Change
Keywords: Forests, drought, climate, California, dendroecology, ecosystem management, biogeography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Marshall East, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Prolonged periods of severe drought can lead to large-scale forest die-off, altering the structure and function of forest ecosystems. The impacts of drought on forests may be further exacerbated by the legacy of past land use policies. This presentation will highlight a biogeographic transect of research studies on tree-growth response to climate, local tree competition, and forest management practices across ecosystems in northern California during the recent, severe California drought. The primary ecosystems of study include a maritime (west) to dry (east) forest transect that include redwood, oak woodland, and dry mixed-conifer forest ecosystems throughout the Klamath Mountain ecoregion. We have found individual tree characteristics, local competition, and climatic stress to all be important factors influencing tree-growth. Our results suggest that reducing stand density, and thus competition, can improve tree and treatment-level drought resistance during severe drought. However, these benefits are highly dependent upon tree characteristics, drought severity and species-level responses. This on-going research is providing information to understand the complex dynamics around forest response to drought and climate change, and the implications for forest management and restoration activities.

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