Managing climate change adaptation in forests

A case study from the U.S. Southwest

Lucy P. Kerhoulas, Thomas E Kolb, Matthew D. Hurteau, George W Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Summary: Forest mortality related to climate change is an increasingly common global phenomenon. We provide a case study of the U.S. Southwest to investigate the interactions among forest restoration treatments that alter stand density, tree growth and drought resistance in trees of different size classes. Using cores taken from five positions in large trees (coarse roots, breast height, base of live crown, midcrown branch and treetop) and breast height in small trees, we investigated how radial growth response to thinning and precipitation availability varied in 72 ponderosa pines Pinus ponderosa Dougl. in northern Arizona. Ten years after thinning, growth of small trees did not respond significantly to thinning, whereas growth of large trees increased following moderate and heaving thinning, and this response was similar across within-tree core sample positions. The intensity of thinning treatment did not significantly affect dry-year growth in small trees. In large trees, dry-year growth after thinning was maintained at pre-thinning levels in moderate and heavy thinning treatments but decreased in the light thinning and control treatments. Synthesis and applications. Our findings indicate that more aggressive thinning treatments used for forest restoration stimulate growth throughout large residual trees from coarse roots to branches and also improve drought resistance, providing a greater resilience to future climate-related stress. These responses to treatment are more pronounced in large trees than small trees. Forest thinning is therefore recommended in systems that are likely to experience increased temperature and decreased precipitation as a result of climate change. Our findings indicate that more aggressive thinning treatments used for forest restoration stimulate growth throughout large residual trees from coarse roots to branches and also improve drought resistance, providing a greater resilience to future climate-related stress. These responses to treatment are more pronounced in large trees than small trees. Forest thinning is therefore recommended in systems that are likely to experience increased temperature and decreased precipitation as a result of climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1311-1320
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Volume50
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

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thinning
drought resistance
climate change adaptation
climate change
climate
growth response
temperature
mortality

Keywords

  • Arizona
  • Carbon allocation
  • Dendrochronology
  • Drought
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Restoration
  • Stand density
  • Thinning
  • Tree ring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Managing climate change adaptation in forests : A case study from the U.S. Southwest. / Kerhoulas, Lucy P.; Kolb, Thomas E; Hurteau, Matthew D.; Koch, George W.

In: Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 50, No. 6, 12.2013, p. 1311-1320.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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