Navigation Links
New study reveals unexpected relationship between climate warming and advancing treelines

A new study reveals that treelines are not responding to climate warming as expected. The research, the first global quantitative assessment of the relationship between climate warming and treeline advance, is published in Ecology Letters and tests the premise that treelines are globally advancing in response to climate warming since 1900.

Treelines are the elevation or latitudinal limits where trees are capable of growth or survival and are considered to be early indicators of climate warming because they are constrained primarily by cold temperatures. Summer temperature is widely considered to be the primary control of treeline formation and maintenance, whereas winter temperatures have previously been considered less critical because of the insulative effects of snow. This study reveals how winter warming has overturned this prevailing view.

"Average temperatures have risen over the last century, with a more pronounced and rapid change at high altitudes and latitudes", said Ms. Melanie Harsch from the Bio-Protection Research Centre in New Zealand. "Within these zones, treelines are thought to be more temperature sensitive and so the rise in summer temperatures should result in an advance of treeline position."

Harsch and her co-authors conducted a multivariate meta-analysis, using a global dataset of 166 treeline sites with temperature data taken from the closest climate station to each site. The team used this data to analyse treeline advance throughout the 20th century and consider the contributing factors to that advance.

The team found that only 87 of the 166 sites (52%) had advanced while simultaneously the mean annual local temperatures had increased at 111 of the 166 sites at an average rate of 0.013˚C a year (or 1˚C in 77 years). Of the remaining sites, 77 (47%) remained stable and only two (1%) had treelines that receded. Both of the receding sites showed evidence of disturbance, indicating that regardless of form, location or degree of temperature change experienced over the last century, treeline positions have either advanced or remained static.

"Surprisingly these results reveal that treelines are not universally responding to climate warming by advancing, as expected," said Harsch, "However they demonstrate the importance of temperature on treeline advance over other factors such as disturbance, latitude, scale, elevation and distance to the ocean; none of which demonstrated strong relationships with the probability of treeline advance."

Another surprising result of this study was the association with winter, rather than summer, warming. These results provide no evidence of the prevailing view that high altitude and latitude treelines are controlled only by summer temperatures. Instead they show that treelines are more likely to advance at sites that had warmed during the winter months. It is known, at least in northern latitudes that climate-associated changes in winter conditions are on average more extreme than changes in summer conditions.

"These results show that treelines are responding to warming, but are not consistent in that only half of the sites showed signs of advance despite most sites experiencing warming. Several studies on plant species' responses to climate warming have shown mixed results and this study provides a possible explanation both winter and summer conditions control treeline position," concluded Harsch. "Our expectations of response depend upon which factors are limiting the current treeline distribution. Where summer temperature is the primary limiting factor we can expect to continue seeing advance, but at other sites treeline advance is unlikely to occur until other limiting factors are first lessened."


Contact: Ben Norman

Related biology news :

1. Childhood obesity indicates greater risk of school absenteeism, Penn study reveals
2. A study by the MUHC and McGill University opens a new door to understanding cancer
3. Study begins to reveal clues to the cause and progression of sepsis
4. Clones on task serve greater good, evolutionary study shows
5. New study warns limited carbon market puts 20 percent of tropical forest at risk
6. New study examines how rearing environment can alter navigation
7. Study links cat disease to flame retardants in furniture and to pet food
8. New continent and species discovered in Atlantic study
9. Study shows link between alcohol consumption and hiv disease progression
10. Feeling hot, hot, hot: New study suggests ways to control fever-induced seizures
11. Study finds environmental tests help predict hospital-acquired Legionnaires disease risk
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics ... human interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the ... vehicle-specific solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics ... and biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry ... vehicle. Europe , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015 Daon, a global leader in ... released a new version of its IdentityX Platform ... North America have already installed IdentityX v4.0 ... a FIDO UAF certified server component as ... activate FIDO features. These customers include some of the ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 In the ... issues of concern for various industry verticals such as ... due to the growing demand for secure & simplified ... various ,sectors, such as hacking of bank accounts, misuse ... electronic equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones are ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" ... reported financial results for the quarter ended September ... in Canadian dollars and presented under International Financial ... States ," said Andrew Rae , ... regarding iCo-008 are not only value enriching for ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered ... the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 ... posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , with ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced today ... the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual ... on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... FRANCISCO , Nov. 24, 2015  Twist ... announced that Emily Leproust, Ph.D., Twist Bioscience chief ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference on December 1, 2015 at ... Hotel in New York City. --> ... . Twist Bioscience is on Twitter. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: