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Understanding and forecasting forest changes: A sampling of 30 years of research in Sierra Nevada national parks

Released: 2015
Citation:
Stephenson, N, P van Mantgem, A Das. 2015. Understanding and forecasting forest changes: A sampling of 30 years of research in Sierra Nevada national parks. Science for Parks, Parks for Science:  The Next Century, Berkley, California. 25-27 March 2015. [presentation]

North American forests face unprecedented challenges, including rapid climatic changes, altered fire regimes, and upsurges of pests and pathogens. Our ability to respond depends in part on three key pieces of information: detection of forest changes, attribution of those changes, and forecasting future changes. Our network of thirty permanent plots in Sequoia and Yosemite national parks has contributed substantially to detection, attribution, and forecasting. Some of our findings include: (1) Tree mortality rates in Sierra Nevada old growth forests have more than doubled in recent decades, apparently due to warming temperatures, (2) Increasing stresses on forests will likely result in increased fire severity even without changes in fire prescriptions, and (3) Relatively simple models can accurately forecast the continuing loss of Sierra Nevada sugar pines to white pine blister rust. As NPS moves into its next century, such research will become increasingly critical for park managers.


This product is associated with the following project:
Climate and Fire in the Sierra Nevada

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