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Title: Spatiotemporal trends of black walnut forest stocking under climate change
Basal area is a key measure of forest stocking and an important proxy of forest productivity in the face of climate change. Black walnut ( Juglans nigra ) is one of the most valuable timber species in North America. However, little is known about how the stocking of black walnut would change with differed bioclimatic conditions under climate change. In this study, we projected the current and future basal area of black walnut. We trained different machine learning models using more than 1.4 million tree records from 10,162 Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) sample plots and 42 spatially explicit bioclimate and other environmental attributes. We selected random forests (RF) as the final model to estimate the basal area of black walnut under climate change because RF had a higher coefficient of determination ( R 2 ), lower root mean square error (RMSE), and lower mean absolute error (MAE) than the other two models (XGBoost and linear regression). The most important variables to predict basal area were the mean annual temperature and precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, topology, and human footprint. Under two emission scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 and 8.5), the RF model projected that black walnut stocking would increase in the northern part of the current range in the USA by 2080, with a potential shift of species distribution range although uncertainty still exists due to unpredictable events, including extreme abiotic (heat, drought) and biotic (pests, disease) occurrences. Our models can be adapted to other hardwood tree species to predict tree changes in basal area based on future climate scenarios.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Forests and Global Change
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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