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DEAL research to be presented at the IALE meeting in Anchorage

posted Feb 17, 2014, 3:06 PM by Megan Creutzburg   [ updated Feb 17, 2014, 3:08 PM ]
The International Association of Landscape Ecologists (IALE) annual meeting will be held in Anchorage, AK this spring. There will be two talks and a poster featuring DEAL research. For more information about IALE, see

Oral Presentations:

Climate Change and Policy for Landscape Ecology
Robert M. Scheller
Abstract: Climate change is fundamentally different than other anthropogenic alterations to natural systems. Many human effects on natural systems are ephemeral or reversible and can be actively restored or passively allowed to restore over time. Climate change, however, is neither ephemeral nor reversible. Current projections are for approximately 3.5C of warming by the end of this century. As a result, climate change will push landscapes into novel states from which they will never return and is generating a ‘no-analog’ future. Landscape ecologists can and must play an active and important role in shaping this future. First, landscape ecologists must learn how system function and change at more fundamental and mechanistic levels. Second, landscape ecology must help society understand the potentially radical adaptations – beyond either resistance or resilience strategies - that may be required to maintain sustainable landscapes. Finally, landscape ecology must serve a greater translational role by actively working with practitioners. What management actions will be reasonable and effective? When should they be deployed? What management actions should we abandon? This role is particularly important in an era of declining resources and amplifying change, when difficult choices about which species to save and which systems to protect must be made.

Management and Climate Change in Coastal Oregon Forests: The Panther Creek Watershed as a Case Study
Megan K. Creutzburg, Robert M. Scheller, Melissa S. Lucash, Stephen D. LeDuc, Mark G. Johnson
Abstract: The highly productive forests of the Oregon Coast Range mountains have been intensively harvested for many decades, and recent interest has emerged in the potential for removing harvest residue as a source of renewable woody biomass energy. However, the long-term consequences of such intensive harvest are unknown, particularly as coastal forests face novel conditions resulting from climate change. We used the LANDIS-II forest simulation model to project the long-term (90 year) impacts of climate change and management actions on carbon sequestration in a small watershed in the northeastern Oregon Coast Range. We explored a large number of scenarios, including current climate, six scenarios of climate change, two harvest rotation periods, two harvest intensities (including biomass energy harvest), and no harvest. Simulations suggest that climate change is likely to increase forest productivity and biomass over the next century as warmer winter temperatures allow greater conifer production in cooler months, offsetting declines in production due to summer drought. Harvesting residual material for biomass energy had little impact trees and soil, but caused declines in coarse woody debris under fast harvest rotations. Soil organic matter showed little variation among scenarios, indicating that soil carbon is relatively resilient to climate and management impacts. Ongoing work will expand the study to the entire Oregon Coast Range, where we will incorporate landscape-scale disturbances and a wider variety of management scenarios across a diverse range of landownerships.

Poster Presentation:

Stand to landscape level ANPP: Using tree-cores and disturbances to model forest growth patterns
Authors: Alec M Kretchun, E. Louise Loudermilk, Robert M Scheller, Matthew D Hurteau, Soumaya Belmecheri
In conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, precipitation has been shown to be a major factor influencing tree growth and annual net primary productivity (ANPP). The effects of drought events on tree growth and ANPP can be compounded by biotic factors. Understanding the contribution of each of these influences on growth and regeneration requires information at multiple spatial scales and is essential for understanding regional forest response to changing climatic conditions. Our objectives were to 1) quantify stand- and landscape-level ANPP by scaling tree-core data to provide an empirical estimate for validation of an existing forest landscape model of the Lake Tahoe Basin, CA, NV and 2) evaluate to what extent the landscape disturbance and succession model is accurately capturing the dynamics of the system, as influenced by drought and bark beetle outbreaks relative to empirical estimates for a 20 year period (1987-2006). Tree ring data were acquired from 21 sites across the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Landscape Disturbance and Succession model, LANDIS-II, was used to model ANPP across the Basin. Variability within the tree ring data was captured well within modeled ANPP, which suggests that the underlying system dynamics that determine tree growth are well represented. PDSI was a useful index for gauging basin-wide drought, though in certain years, total winter precipitation was more closely associated with observed growth than PDSI. With regards to disturbance, simulating the combined impacts of drought and beetles provides the best approximation of the empirical data.