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Publication Information

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Title: Forests in decline: yellow-cedar research yields prototype for climate change adaptation planning

Author: Oliver, Marie; Hennon, Paul; D'Amore, David;

Date: 2013

Source: Science Findings 150. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p

Publication Series: Science Findings

Description: Yellow-cedar has been dying across 600 miles of North Pacific coastal rain forest—from Alaska to British Columbia—since about 1880. Thirty years ago, a small group of pathologists began investigating possible biotic causes of the decline. When no biotic cause could be found, the scope broadened into a research program that eventually encompassed the fields of ecology, soils, hydrology, ecophysiology, dendrochronology, climatology, and landscape analysis. Combined studies ultimately revealed that the loss of this culturally, economically, and ecologically valuable tree is caused by a warming climate, reduced snowpack, poor soil drainage, and the species’ shallow roots. These factors lead to fine-root freezing, which eventually kills the trees. The considerable knowledge gained while researchers sought the cause of widespread yellow-cedar mortality forms the basis for a conservation and adaptive management strategy. A new approach to mapping that overlays topography, cedar populations, soil drainage, and snow enables land managers to pinpoint locations where yellowcedar habitat is expected to be suitable or threatened in the future, thereby bringing climate change predictions into management scenarios. The research program serves as a prototype for evaluating the effects of climate change in other landscapes. It shows the value of long-term, multidisciplinary research that encourages scientists and land managers to work together toward developing adaptive management strategies.

Keywords: climate change

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
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Oliver, Marie; Hennon, Paul; D'Amore, David. 2013. Forests in decline: yellow-cedar research yields prototype for climate change adaptation planning. Science Findings 150. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.

 


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