TEMPE — Two researchers at Arizona State University are aiming to help officials manage trees based on how different types are affected by climate change.
Janet Franklin, a geography professor, and Pep Serra-Diaz, a postdoctoral researcher, are using computer models to study how quickly a tree species and its habitat will be exposed to climate change. That information is used to locate areas with specific elevations and latitudes where trees could survive and repopulate.
This information could be useful to foresters, natural resource agencies and policymakers. “They could say, ‘OK, here’s a region where the tree or this forest may not be at as much risk of climate change … where we might want to focus our management attention,’” Franklin said.
Serra-Diaz was the lead author of a peer-reviewed article that appeared in the journal Diversity and Distributions. Franklin and researchers from other universities were co-authors.
The study’s main goal is checking exposure patterns at a specific forest location, in this case along the west coast of California, and expanding them to a global level, Serra-Diaz said.
But each tree species differs in how it is exposed and how quickly that exposure takes place, even if different species are in similar locations, he said.
“What we mean by exposure is how the conditions will change with respect to what the species is used to,” he said. “We need to know how the species reacts and (its) capacity to adapt.”
Macro-level data could hide some small areas, such as cooler mountain valleys, where temperatures differ and a tree species might be better able to survive, Serra-Diaz said.