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New publications explores how we manage forests for resistance and resilience under climate change

posted Apr 4, 2016, 5:45 AM by Robert Scheller   [ updated May 3, 2016, 7:53 AM ]
A new publication explores how we can manage forests for resistance (the idea of resisting change) and/or resilience (how we ensure that forests can adapt to change) under climate change.  The research was conducted by Dr. Matthew Duveneck (currently at Harvard U), as part of his dissertation at PSU, and Dr. Scheller.  These ideas have particular relevance as society must collectively decide when and where to take stronger management actions to preserve forests and forest health over the coming century of accelerating climate change.

Citation: Duveneck, M.J. and R.M. Scheller. 2016Measuring and managing resistance and resilience under climate change in northern Great Lake forests (USA).  Landscape Ecology 31:669–686.


Context Climate change will have diverse and interacting effects on forests over the next century. One of the most pronounced effects may be a decline in resistance to chronic change and resilience to acute disturbances. The capacity for forests to persist and/or adapt to climate change remains largely unknown, in part because there is not broad agreement how to measure and apply resilience concepts.
Objectives We assessed the interactions of climate change, resistance, resilience, diversity, and alternative management of northern Great Lake forests.
Methods We simulated two landscapes (northern Minnesota and northern lower Michigan), three climate futures (current climate, a low emissions trajectory, and a high emissions trajectory), and four management regimes [business as usual, expanded forest reserves, modified silviculture, and climate suitable planting (CSP)]. We simulated each scenario with a forest landscape simulation model. We assessed resistance as the change in species composition over time. We assessed resilience and calculated an index of resilience that incorporated both recovery of pre-fire tree species composition and aboveground biomass within simulated burned areas.
Results Results indicate a positive relationship between diversity and resistance within low diversity areas. Simulations of the high emission climate future resulted in a decline in both resistance and resilience.
Conclusions Of the management regimes, the CSP regime resulted in some of the greatest resilience under climate change although our results suggest that differences in forest management are largely outweighed by the effects of climate change. Our results provide a framework for assessing resistance and resilience relevant and valuable to a broad array of ecological systems.

Keywords Alternative forest management,. Climate change,. LANDIS-II,. Michigan (USA),. Minnesota(USA),. Resistance,. Resilience