Event Title

Forecasting climate-induced distribution shifts for the piñon-juniper complex of the western United States

Presenter Information

Thomas C. Edwards

Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

www.restoringthewest.org

Abstract

Piñon and juniper vegetation types cover >30% of the Colorado Plateau. Two species and one variety of piñon pine (Pinus monophylla, P. edulis, P. monophylla var. fallax), and four species of juniper (Juniperus osteosperma, J. monosperma, J. deppeana, J. arizonica) are dominant in the region. They comprise a mosaic of overlapping distributions arranged primarily across a gradient of seasonal precipitation. Individual species have been found to respond uniquely to climate changes, causing shifts in the co-occurrence of species. This is reflected in the differential mortality among species caused by recent droughts, which appears to indicate long-term distribution shifts have already begun. We developed bioclimatic distribution models and applied climate change scenarios to gauge potential shifts in the distributions of individual species and their co-occurrence. The application of climate change scenarios resulted in, for each species / variety, the spatial depiction of currently inhabited areas no longer suitable for regeneration as well as currently uninhabited areas becoming suitable for colonization. Our results suggest individualistic responses of species to climate change will likely cause shifts in their spatial co-occurrence. For example, J. osteosperma is predicted move northwest whereas J. monosperma is predicted to move northeast resulting in a decrease of co-occurrence. P. edulis is predicted to increasingly co-occur with J. osteosperma while P. monophylla is predicted to decrease or increase depending on the climate change scenario. The character of individual species distributions shifts and their resulting changes in co-occurrence will be largely determined by changes in the summer monsoon rains and in the minimum winter temperatures.

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Oct 16th, 1:30 PM Oct 16th, 2:00 PM

Forecasting climate-induced distribution shifts for the piñon-juniper complex of the western United States

USU Eccles Conference Center

Piñon and juniper vegetation types cover >30% of the Colorado Plateau. Two species and one variety of piñon pine (Pinus monophylla, P. edulis, P. monophylla var. fallax), and four species of juniper (Juniperus osteosperma, J. monosperma, J. deppeana, J. arizonica) are dominant in the region. They comprise a mosaic of overlapping distributions arranged primarily across a gradient of seasonal precipitation. Individual species have been found to respond uniquely to climate changes, causing shifts in the co-occurrence of species. This is reflected in the differential mortality among species caused by recent droughts, which appears to indicate long-term distribution shifts have already begun. We developed bioclimatic distribution models and applied climate change scenarios to gauge potential shifts in the distributions of individual species and their co-occurrence. The application of climate change scenarios resulted in, for each species / variety, the spatial depiction of currently inhabited areas no longer suitable for regeneration as well as currently uninhabited areas becoming suitable for colonization. Our results suggest individualistic responses of species to climate change will likely cause shifts in their spatial co-occurrence. For example, J. osteosperma is predicted move northwest whereas J. monosperma is predicted to move northeast resulting in a decrease of co-occurrence. P. edulis is predicted to increasingly co-occur with J. osteosperma while P. monophylla is predicted to decrease or increase depending on the climate change scenario. The character of individual species distributions shifts and their resulting changes in co-occurrence will be largely determined by changes in the summer monsoon rains and in the minimum winter temperatures.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2013/October16/5