Predicting climate change extirpation risk for central and southern Appalachian forest tree speciesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Climate change will likely pose a severe threat to the viability of certain forest tree species, which will be forced either to adapt to new conditions or to shift to more favorable environments if they are to survive. Several forest tree species of the central and southern Appalachians may be at particular risk, since they occur in limited high-elevation ranges and/or are currently threatened by nonnative insects and diseases. We are beginning an assessment of potential climate change impacts on more than 100 North American forest tree species, using the innovative Multivariate Spatio-Temporal Clustering (MSTC) technique. Combining aspects of traditional geographical information systems and statistical clustering techniques, MSTC statistically predicts environmental niche envelopes to forecast species' geographic ranges under altered environmental conditions such as those expected under climate change. We outline the objectives of this project, present some preliminary results for central and southern Appalachian tree species, and discuss the need for assistance from fellow scientists in the development of this work.