Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y082270

    Predicting the responses of interior Douglas fir to climate change in BC
Project lead: Green, Scott (University of Northern British Columbia)
Contributing Authors: Green, Scott; Griesbauer, Hardy P.
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Current research suggests that global climate change may significantly alter the forests of British Columbia. Shifts in temperature, precipitation and their interactions will likely destabilize primary forest processes and disturbance regimes in some environments, leading to changes in competitive interactions, productivities and regeneration successes of co-occurring species. Next to ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is expected to experience the greatest frequency increases among BC’s conifers due to climate change (Hamann and Wang. Ecology. 2006). Characterizing changes in tree-population sensitivities to climate across the range of conditions where Douglas-fir occurs in BC will provide a biological foundation to predict their future competitive abilities, productivities, local abundances and transfer potentials. Their sensitivities of populations adapted to different climates will likely vary, and population responses may be particularly pronounced at their climatic limits (temperature and moisture). Such information is essential to the development of new provincial seed-deployment strategies to address climate change, a priority objective of the Future Forest Ecosystem Initiative and the MoFR’s Climate-Change Task Team. Some of the potential applications for BC forest management from this study include: 1) Annual allowable cut quotas: Generating site-specific predictions of Douglas-fir growth responses to climate fluctuations across its climatic range will provide valuable input for the adjustment its growth and yield estimates. The biologically based model to be developed should permit the examination of a range of climate-change scenarios, giving greater flexibility in predictions about future yields for Douglas-fir. When combined with forest inventory assessments, this model will permit the examination of growth and yield responses to climate change at the tree, stand and landscape levels. 2) Reforestation practices: It will likely be necessary to redefine BC’s current seed-transfer/tree-breeding zones and preferred/acceptable species standards based upon species-specific sensitivities to future climate change. The response surfaces generated by this model should permit the drafting of climate specific “adaptive envelopes” that could be used to supplement the rich body of genecology studies. These combined approaches should enhance the current capacity to revise seed-transfer/tree-breeding zones based on current and future conditions. 3) Identification of Management “Hot Zones”: The model generated from this project should provide critical information for identifying management zones where tree species-environment interactions create particular management uncertainty for Douglas-fir. For instance, some areas may be exceptionally dynamic due to strong selection for low-abundance species in a changing climate. In such a case, species associations, relative abundances and productivities may change dramatically in coming decades. Such “hot zones” could be identified for special monitoring and management consideration.
Related projects:  FSP_Y071270
Contact: Green, Scott, (250) 960-5817,


Executive Summary (26Kb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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