The Vulnerability of Trees and Biomes of the Rocky Mountains to Climate Change

by Kyle Jensen

As the reality of climate change becomes ever clearer, federal land managers are becoming increasingly concerned with how climate change will affect natural resources and ecosystem services within their jurisdictions. The western US in particular is expected to warm significantly, which will have widespread effects on the distribution of forests and various species; understanding these effects is essential to developing strategies to cope with future changes. Hansen and Phillips (2015) conducted a meta-analysis of five studies assessing the vulnerability of tree species and biome types to projected future climate changes, the results of which are expected to be used by the National Park Service as it initiates climate vulnerability assessments. The studies utilized bioclimate envelope modeling, which showed a severe loss of territory for subalpine systems, especially for the white bark pine (Pinus albicaulis) and Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana). Continue reading