Forecasts of Climate-Associated Shifts in Tree Species (ForeCASTS)

Posted on: 12/11/2018 - Updated on: 2/27/2020

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Forest ecosystems are ever adjusting to changing conditions resulting from seasonal fluctuations in temperature and precipitation, disturbances like storms and wildfire, and interactions among species, but changing climatic conditions could pose a severe threat to forest trees. Whether tree populations adapt on site to changing habitat conditions, shift their ranges to new suitable locations, or simply die out in response to climate change, the forests we know today—and the genetic makeup of the tree species within them—could be very different by the middle of the 21st century.

With support from the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring program, Eastern Threat Center scientists are developing maps that pinpoint locations where climate change pressures are likely to be most intense to help scientists, land managers, and policy makers target tree species for monitoring, conservation, and management activities. The maps, known as Forecasts of Climate-Associated Shifts in Tree Species (ForeCASTS), depict future suitable habitat ranges for North American tree species within the United States as well as across the globe. Using projections of future climate in combination with the concept of fine-scale ecoregions—land areas that share similar environmental characteristics, such as soils, topography, and climate variables—ForeCASTS can ultimately be used to assess the risk to genetic integrity of North American forest tree populations.

View the provisional maps on the ForeCASTS project Web site.

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Managing Organizations

The Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center was established as part of the USDA Forest Service's program under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, and is part of a network of early warning activities established by the Forest Service nationwide.The mission of the Eastern Threat Center is to generate, integrate, and apply knowledge to predict, detect, and assess environmental threats to public and private forests of the east, and to deliver this knowledge to managers in ways that are timely, useful, and user friendly.


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