Journal Article

Adapting forest management to climate change using bioclimate models with topographic drivers

Gerald E. Rehfeldt, James J. Worrall, Suzanne B. Marchetti and Nicholas L. Crookston

in Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research

Volume 88, issue 5, pages 528-539
Published in print December 2015 | ISSN: 0015-752X
Published online June 2015 | e-ISSN: 1464-3626 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpv019
Adapting forest management to climate change using bioclimate models with topographic drivers

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Bioclimate models incorporating topographic predictors as surrogates for microclimate effects are developed for Populus tremuloides and Picea engelmannii to provide the fine-grained specificity to local terrain required for adapting management of three Colorado (USA) national forests (1.28 million ha) and their periphery to climate change. Models were built with the Random Forests classification tree using presence–absence observations obtained by overlaying species distribution maps on data points gridded at ∼225 m within the forests and from ground plot observations from adjacent areas. Topographic effects derived from 90-m elevation grids were expressed by weighting aspect by slope angle. Climate estimates were obtained from spline surfaces. Out-of-bag errors were ∼17 per cent, and classification errors for an independent sample from within the forest were ∼13 per cent. Topographic variables were second in importance to climate variables for predicting species distributions; their inclusion captured well-known topographic effects on vegetation in mountainous terrain. Predictions made for future climates described by three General Circulation Models and three emissions scenarios were used to map on 90-m grids the habitat expected to be lost, threatened, persistent or emergent. The habitat categories are used to identify those areas where treatments should have highest likelihood of success.

Journal Article.  7270 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Sustainability ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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