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Temperate New Frontier - Determining the role of spring frost events in controlling the expansion of temperate species into the boreal forest 

Funding: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) NOVA Grant ($30,000)- 2021-2022 to L. D'Orangeville & Y. Bergeron

Partners

 

Dr. Yves Bergeron, UQAT

Dr. A.R. Taylor, UNB

Students

Jeneya Smith (MSc)

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Past studies have used minimum winter temperatures to predict the northern distribution limits of temperate tree species, but rare spring-frost events could play a major role. As climate change is predicted to shifts species distribution ranges, this project aims to help understand if temper.  

Our study is focused within the highlands ecoregion of Mount Carleton Provincial Park, New Brunswick, where we will collect climate and soil data along elevational temperate-boreal composition gradients. We will also establish similar study sites along two latitudinal transects in western Quebec. Matching annual growth rings to their historical climate data and spring phenology to its corresponding climate conditions, this project aims to: (1) measure the influence of extreme temperature minimums and frost events on the establishment, growth and survival of temperate tree species (yellow birch, sugar maple, and red maple) at their northern distribution limit, (2) predict the shift in species limits under changing climate conditions.  

Estimating climate change impact on tree growth across North America’s boreal forest in the near term

Joint funding from NSERC Discovery to Dr. L. D'Orangeville & from Canadian Forest Service funding to Dr. A.R. Taylor 2020-2023

Students

JiejieWang (PhD)

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The growth North America’s boreal forest is a critical regulator of global atmospheric carbon fluxes which provides a wealth of goods and services to humanity. Climate change is expected to disrupt this key process, but its climate sensitivity remains poorly understood. Climate change impacts on tree growth vary among regions and species. Our ability to predict future growth trajectories of the boreal forest in the coming decades hinges on a better understanding of species-specific adaptive capacities under the large gradient of local climates that define the boreal ecosystem. The two research objectives include: (1) disentangle climate and growth relationships for the six most abundant boreal tree species (balsam fir, Abies balsamea; black spruce, Picea mariana; white spruce, Picea glauca; jack pine, Pinus banksiana; white birch, Betula papyrifera; and trembling aspen, Populus tremuloides); (2) project tree growth across boreal forest under different climate change scenarios in the near term.

In this study, we will apply a novel boosted regression tree (BRT) technique to permanent sample plots spanning both Canada and the U.S. to model climatic controls of tree growth for the six target tree species across most of their natural range. Furthermore, the species-specific BRT model will be used to predict the future growth of boreal forest under different climate change scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) in 2050s.

Incorporating climate change into forest planning models for the Acadian Forest region: a case study using Gagetown military base, NB (Canada)

Scholarship from Université de Moncton 2020-2022

Students

Cédric Albert (PhD)

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Global change is expected to have a big impact on forest functions all over the world including in eastern Canada. Managing the forest without knowing what kind of results it is going to provide in terms of future forest conditions is the current challenge of many foresters. This research line is going to assess the impacts of implementing different adaptive forest management strategies today on future forest function and resilience to future global change scenarios. We will be putting together a sylvicultural toolbox that includes the knowledge of global changes, resilience, uncertainty, and objectives impact on future forest functions. Through an optimization software, a classic planning approach will be compared with a climate adapted one to expose how big is the gap in future forest outcomes caused by our lack of climate adaptation. The assessment of uncertainty regarding theses type of models using Monte Carlos and guidelines to the promotion of forest resilience are two other concepts that will be deeply investigated in this research line-up, enhancing forester's knowledge about climate related management risks.

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