Projecting Climate Change Effects on Aspen Distribution and Productivity

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Aspen forests support numerous wildlife species and provide high quality forage for livestock and game.

Aspen ecosystems are in decline across portions of the western United States and recent research suggests that future climate will be even less capable of supporting aspen. Researchers from the USGS and the University of Idaho projected the potential effects of increasing temperature, altered moisture availability, and fire occurrence on aspen in the northern Great Basin and central Rockies. Modeling revealed that aspen productivity could decline in the future, especially at lower elevations, yet shifting growth timing in response to climate may allow aspen to remain productive in certain locations. Future climate could also influence aspen regeneration success after fire. Results can help land managers mitigate predicted climate change impacts by evaluating new management strategies and adjusting social and economic goals in areas vulnerable to aspen loss.

Shinneman, D.J., Link, T.E., 2018, Projecting climate change effects on aspen distribution and productivity in the northern Great Basin and central Rockies using a multi-model approach: U.S. Geological Survey, Final Report to the NW CASC, p. 10 [https://www.sciencebase.gov/catalog/item/5ac68202e4b0e2c2dd0e2f18].