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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Forecasting Potential Climate Refugia to Guide Conservation of Montane Species

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 | 10:30 am
Jane Foster
University of Minnesota

Montane forests and the species that live in them are vulnerable to climate change. This vulnerability presents a challenge to land managers who must prioritize protected areas for conservation and anticipate potential impacts of changing environmental conditions. Landscape simulation models can be useful tools to predict where montane forests will persist under climate change scenarios, but only if they replicate sufficient spatial and topographic detail at scales that managers find useful to inform adaptive planning. I will talk about our landscape modeling project to predict climate refugia for montane spruce-fir forests in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont using LANDIS-II. We’ve developed new maps of forest composition and soil properties for this National Forest to generate the most realistic starting conditions for projections of change under future climate. The fine spatial detail in climate, vegetation and soils data allows us to detect how species growth rates diverge under climate change in different parts of this topographically complex landscape. Our ongoing interactions with resource managers are critical to ensure that we create realistic projections of future forest conditions that will be useful and relevant to managers making conservation decisions in these landscapes.

Jane Foster is a Landscape Ecologist in a postdoctoral position with the University of Minnesota and the Northeast Climate Science Center. She received a BS from Yale University, a Masters in Forest Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science, and a Doctorate in Forestry from the University of Wisconsin. She studies ecosystem responses to disturbance and environmental stress using fine-scale field data, such as tree rings, and broad-scale geospatial data and tools, such as satellite data and simulation models. Jane lives in Philadelphia, PA.