Science in Action this Week: December 29, 2009

Redwoods and Climate Change

What effect will climate change have on California’s coastal redwood trees?


  • Jeff Musgrave

    Did they take into account over-logging, top soil
    loss and desertification?

  • mmichelson

    Thanks for your question. I asked Lindsay Irving, Visualization & Outreach

    Program Manager at the Academy's Center for Applied Biodiversity

    Informatics. She helped make the maps and visuals from the model outputs

    from her colleagues.

    Here's her response:

    Is the question referring to the models?

    If so, then no, the models do not take into account man-made disturbances or

    environmental stressors like desertification or logging or soil loss. Though

    those are critical components that are pushing the species beyond its

    limits, this study primarily mapped the bio-climatic conditions that

    Redwoods prefer (involving temperature, elevation and precipitation) and we

    modeled this “envelope” of variables under two greenhouse gas emissions

    scenarios to see how those conditions would change if greenhouse gases were

    higher or lower over the next century.

    If you are asking about the what the “current” distribution of Redwoods

    represent that we used in the study, these data were from Save the Redwoods

    League and represent the distribution of both old growth and secondary

    growth redwood forests on public lands for the year 2008. Therefore, forests

    that were logged are included in this distribution as well as other redwood

    forests that may be experiencing disturbance due to top soil erosion,

    logging, or drying conditions (I don't think redwood forests are threatened

    by “desertification” in the conventional definition that I understand it).

    Strictly speaking, we incorporated these distribution data as presence only

    information in our models of the occurrence of the species and any

    associated climactic information with that occurrence.

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