Forests, Lands, and NR Operations

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Establishment of an interdisciplinary project to evaluate ecological implications of climate change in dry south coast forest ecosystems

Author(s) or contact(s): H. Klassen, S.C. Saunders, J.M. Kranabetter, A. MacKinnon, H. Griesbauer, and O. Fitzpatrick
Source: Forests, Lands, and NR Operations
Subject: Climate, Ecology
Series: Technical Report
Other details:  Published 2015. Hardcopy is available.


Climate change is anticipated to alter the species composition, distribution, and productivity of forest ecosystems. In 2010, we established a research project to evaluate ecological attributes of sites with different relative soil moisture and nutrient (site) conditions and subregional climates. The project focussed on dry south coast forests of British Columbia, including the Coastal Douglas-fir moist maritime (CDFmm) and Coastal Western Hemlock very dry maritime (CWHxm) Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) subzones on southeast Vancouver Island. This research is directed toward refining and quantifying a conceptual model of ecosystem function across spatial scales, establishing hypotheses regarding ecosystem change with projected climate shift, and identifying effective field indicators of climate change and its impacts on structure, species composition, and function in these forests.

This research project will be continued in order to parameterize relationships of climatic and site conditions to ecosystem features and to predict potential shifts in forest composition and structure with climate change. Analyses presented in this report form the basis of experimental work to test the soundness of new quantitative models of ecosystem processes in the CDFmm and to assess the utility of attributes proposed for use in field detection of changes in these ecosystems. Field monitoring and experimental work will be integrated with projections from dynamic vegetation models to guide forest management and conservation activities within the CDFmm-CWHxm. The project infrastructure and baseline data are available for additional, related research.

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Updated July 20, 2015