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Keep up to date with the Southwest Climate Change Network news feeds. Drawing on a selection of high-quality credible sources, the feeds provide quick access to new and recent stories on climate change and energy in the Southwest, cutting-edge climate change research, and climate change solutions involving policy, new technology, and the private sector.

Climate Change May Impede Regeneration of Conifer Forests

Date Posted: 
July 11, 2013
Forest Ecology and Management

Regeneration of coniferous forests—including ponderosa pine—after large forest fires may become increasingly difficult as temperatures increase and precipitation potentially becomes more limited, according to a new study published in Forest Ecology and Management. The authors studied a conifer forest in Oregon a decade after a complete stand-replacing wildfire burned across a large elevation and climate gradient. They found little tree regeneration at the warm, dry, low-elevation sites, and more regeneration at higher, moister sites, suggesting that moisture stress may be a limiting factor in conifer regeneration. In coming decades, as temperatures warm and precipitation changes in many regions of the western U.S., failure of trees to regenerate could amplify the greenhouse effect by reducing ecosystem carbon storage. According to the lead author interviewed by Oregon State University News, “thinning and prescribed burning may help reduce fire severity and increase tree survival after wildfire, as well as provide a seed source for future trees.”