Tree seedling growth capacity under climate change

The Boston Area Climate Experiment (BACE) field site in Waltham, MA. Photo credit: J.S. Dukes.

Predicting the effects of climate change on tree species and communities is critical for understanding the future state of our forested ecosystems. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Rodgers et al. used a fully factorial precipitation by warming experiment in an old-field ecosystem in the northeastern United States to study the climatic sensitivity of seedlings of six native tree species. Warm and dry conditions suppressed seedling growth, but affected species differently by increasing mortality, enhancing rates of herbivory, or decreasing foliar carbon uptake. Their results indicate that, in the northeastern US, dry years in a future warmer environment could have damaging effects on the growth capacity of early secondary successional forests, through species-specific effects on leaf production, herbivory, and mortality.

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