skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Shaw, John D."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Climate change‐triggered forest die‐off is an increasing threat to global forests and carbon sequestration but remains extremely challenging to predict. Tree growth resilience metrics have been proposed as measurable proxies of tree susceptibility to mortality. However, it remains unclear whether tree growth resilience can improve predictions of stand‐level mortality. Here, we use an extensive tree‐ring dataset collected at ~3000 permanent forest inventory plots, spanning 13 dominant species across the US Mountain West, where forests have experienced strong drought and extensive die‐off has been observed in the past two decades, to test the hypothesis that tree growth resilience to drought can explain and improve predictions of observed stand‐level mortality. We found substantial increases in growth variability and temporal autocorrelation as well declining drought resistance and resilience for a number of species over the second half of the 20th century. Declining resilience and low tree growth were strongly associated with cross‐ and within‐species patterns of mortality. Resilience metrics had similar explicative power compared to climate and stand structure, but the covariance structure among predictors implied that the effect of tree resilience on mortality could partially be explained by stand and climate variables. We conclude that tree growth resilience offers highly valuablemore »insights on tree physiology by integrating the effect of stressors on forest mortality but may have only moderate potential to improve large‐scale projections of forest die‐off under climate change.

    « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2024
  2. Abstract Tree-ring time series provide long-term, annually resolved information on the growth of trees. When sampled in a systematic context, tree-ring data can be scaled to estimate the forest carbon capture and storage of landscapes, biomes, and—ultimately—the globe. A systematic effort to sample tree rings in national forest inventories would yield unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution of forest carbon dynamics and help resolve key scientific uncertainties, which we highlight in terms of evidence for forest greening (enhanced growth) versus browning (reduced growth, increased mortality). We describe jump-starting a tree-ring collection across the continent of North America, given the commitments of Canada, the United States, and Mexico to visit forest inventory plots, along with existing legacy collections. Failing to do so would be a missed opportunity to help chart an evidence-based path toward meeting national commitments to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, urgently needed for climate stabilization and repair.
  3. Understanding the driving mechanisms behind existing patterns of vegetation hydraulic traits and community trait diversity is critical for advancing predictions of the terrestrial carbon cycle because hydraulic traits affect both ecosystem and Earth system responses to changing water availability. Here, we leverage an extensive trait database and a long-term continental forest plot network to map changes in community trait distributions and quantify “trait velocities” (the rate of change in community-weighted traits) for different regions and different forest types across the United States from 2000 to the present. We show that diversity in hydraulic traits and photosynthetic characteristics is more related to local water availability than overall species diversity. Finally, we find evidence for coordinated shifts toward communities with more drought-tolerant traits driven by tree mortality, but the magnitude of responses differs depending on forest type. The hydraulic trait distribution maps provide a publicly available platform to fundamentally advance understanding of community trait change in response to climate change and predictive abilities of mechanistic vegetation models.

  4. Abstract

    Robust ecological forecasting of tree growth under future climate conditions is critical to anticipate future forest carbon storage and flux. Here, we apply three ingredients of ecological forecasting that are key to improving forecast skill: data fusion, confronting model predictions with new data, and partitioning forecast uncertainty. Specifically, we present the first fusion of tree‐ring and forest inventory data within a Bayesian state‐space model at a multi‐site, regional scale, focusing onPinus ponderosavar.brachypterain the southwestern US. Leveraging the complementarity of these two data sources, we parsed the ecological complexity of tree growth into the effects of climate, tree size, stand density, site quality, and their interactions, and quantified uncertainties associated with these effects. New measurements of trees, an ongoing process in forest inventories, were used to confront forecasts of tree diameter with observations, and evaluate alternative tree growth models. We forecasted tree diameter and increment in response to an ensemble of climate change projections, and separated forecast uncertainty into four different causes: initial conditions, parameters, climate drivers, and process error. We found a strong negative effect of fall–spring maximum temperature, and a positive effect of water‐year precipitation on tree growth. Furthermore, tree vulnerability to climate stress increases with greater competition,more »with tree size, and at poor sites. Under future climate scenarios, we forecast increment declines of 22%–117%, while the combined effect of climate and size‐related trends results in a 56%–91% decline. Partitioning of forecast uncertainty showed that diameter forecast uncertainty is primarily caused by parameter and initial conditions uncertainty, but increment forecast uncertainty is mostly caused by process error and climate driver uncertainty. This fusion of tree‐ring and forest inventory data lays the foundation for robust ecological forecasting of aboveground biomass and carbon accounting at tree, plot, and regional scales, including iterative improvement of model skill.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    Estimates of the percentage of species “committed to extinction” by climate change range from 15% to 37%. The question is whether factors other than climate need to be included in models predicting species’ range change. We created demographic range models that include climate vs. climate‐plus‐competition, evaluating their influence on the geographic distribution ofPinus edulis, a pine endemic to the semiarid southwestern U.S. Analyses of data on 23,426 trees in 1941 forest inventory plots support the inclusion of competition in range models. However, climate and competition together only partially explain this species’ distribution. Instead, the evidence suggests that climate affects other range‐limiting processes, including landscape‐scale, spatial processes such as disturbances and antagonistic biotic interactions. Complex effects of climate on species distributions—through indirect effects, interactions, and feedbacks—are likely to cause sudden changes in abundance and distribution that are not predictable from a climate‐only perspective.

  6. Abstract

    Forests are an incredibly important resource across the globe, yet they are threatened by climate change through stressors such as drought, insect outbreaks, and wildfire. Trailing edge forests—those areas expected to experience range contractions under a changing climate—are of particular concern because of the potential for abrupt conversion to non‐forest. However, due to plant‐climate disequilibrium, broad‐scale forest die‐off and range contraction in trailing edge forests are unlikely to occur over short timeframes (<~25–50 yr) without a disturbance catalyst (e.g., wildfire). This underscores that explicit attention to both climateanddisturbance is necessary to understand how the distribution of forests will respond to climate change. As such, we first identify the expected location of trailing edge forests in the intermountain western United States by mid‐21st century. We then identify those trailing edge forests that have a high probability of stand‐replacing fire and consider such sites to have an elevated risk of fire‐facilitated transition to non‐forest. Results show that 18% of trailing edge forest and 6.6% of all forest are at elevated risk of fire‐facilitated conversion to non‐forest in the intermountain western United States by mid‐21st century. This estimate, however, assumes that fire burns under average weather conditions. For a subset of the studymore »area (the southwestern United States), we were able to incorporate expected fire severity under extreme weather conditions. For this spatial subset, we found that 61% of trailing edge forest and 30% of all forest are at elevated risk of fire‐facilitated conversion to non‐forest under extreme burning conditions. However, due to compounding error in our process that results in unknowable uncertainty, we urge caution in a strict interpretation of these estimates. Nevertheless, our findings suggest the potential for transformed landscapes in the intermountain western United States that will affect ecosystem services such as watershed integrity, wildlife habitat, wood production, and recreation.

    « less
  7. Abstract

    A central challenge in global change research is the projection of the future behavior of a system based upon past observations. Tree‐ring data have been used increasingly over the last decade to project tree growth and forest ecosystem vulnerability under future climate conditions. But how can the response of tree growth to past climate variation predict the future, when the future does not look like the past? Space‐for‐time substitution (SFTS) is one way to overcome the problem of extrapolation: the response at a given location in a warmer future is assumed to follow the response at a warmer location today. Here we evaluated an SFTS approach to projecting future growth of Douglas‐fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), a species that occupies an exceptionally large environmental space in North America. We fit a hierarchical mixed‐effects model to capture ring‐width variability in response to spatial and temporal variation in climate. We found opposing gradients for productivity and climate sensitivity with highest growth rates and weakest response to interannual climate variation in the mesic coastal part of Douglas‐fir's range; narrower rings and stronger climate sensitivity occurred across the semi‐arid interior. Ring‐width response to spatial versus temporal temperature variation was opposite in sign, suggesting that spatialmore »variation in productivity, caused by local adaptation and other slow processes, cannot be used to anticipate changes in productivity caused by rapid climate change. We thus substituted only climate sensitivities when projecting future tree growth. Growth declines were projected across much of Douglas‐fir's distribution, with largest relative decreases in the semiarid U.S. Interior West and smallest in the mesic Pacific Northwest. We further highlight the strengths of mixed‐effects modeling for reviving a conceptual cornerstone of dendroecology, Cook's 1987 aggregate growth model, and the great potential to use tree‐ring networks and results as a calibration target for next‐generation vegetation models.

    « less