Trees on the move, or not.

Dr Josep M Serra Diaz1

1Agroparistech, Nancy, France, 2BIOCHANGE- Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World, Aarhus, Denmark

Range shifts are taking place in a multitude of organisms, but attributing and predicting range shifts for tree species is a difficult task due to their passive dispersal and long generation times. Shits in tree species ranges are thus largely influenced by the pace of climate change vs. their capacity to colonize suitable areas, but other less-studied factors, such as disturbance and management, also may play a role. Here, we synthetize data and modeling approaches to understand and project range shifts of tree species. First, we highlight the pace of climate change compared to the potential best case scenarios for tree species migration in a global tree species assessment. Second, we use mechanistic approaches to simulate range shifts in two regions: west-coast and east-coast United States forests. In these two examples we show disturbance regimes and biotic interactions may drive rapid distribution shifts in some cases, but not in others. Finally, in a case study in southern California, we highlight how niche ontogeny may shift our projections of species range shifts. The three studies highlight the challenges and new avenues of research related to the temporal aspect of climate change drivers driving future species distributions.


Assistant professor at the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences. Worked in different forest systems and range shifts in Mediterranean and Temperate systems using experimental and modeling approaches.

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