Resilience of the conifers and carbon, part 2 (and management, climate change, etc.)

posted Sep 27, 2012, 1:58 PM by Brian Buma   [ updated Sep 27, 2012, 2:00 PM ]
The modeling described in the previous post has more or less wrapped up.  Currently there's a poster made, and some work in review.  Basically, the story has two parts.  First, C stocks rebounded regardless of conifer resilience due to a rapid influx of aspen seedlings.  This is pretty neat.  The second part is less so:  Due to climate change, C stocks fall rapidly (in the majority of modeled CC scenarios).  This is due to the shifting bioclimatic envelope by which the model works, so it's subject to those caveats of course.  However, something to think about.  

So, what's to be done?  Well, there are a couple options if you want to maintain a specific ecosystem service.  First, of course, is to do nothing.  Natural systems, etc.  Second, you can attempt to prop up the current system by augmenting its resilience.  This was modeled by planting spruce wherever conifers weren't naturally resilient.  Third, you can transform to a more adaptive system, which likely means facilitated migration of non-local species.  This was also modeled.  This was also the only option that did anything in the model- it maintained tree cover and resulted in increased C stocks over all climate change scenarios.  The resilience option was temporarily successful, but in the end (year 2109), it was essentially the same as the no action plan. 

There's obviously a lot to think about when it comes to facilitated migration.  How much risk can we tolerate?  How much do we care about natural vs. artificial dynamics (and is that a moot point anyway)?  What about runaway invasions?  All things to think about.  However, because forests are so slow growing, the time to think about it is now.  Disturbances provide good starting points for transformation and adaptation, they clean the slate and allow the ecosystem to reset to something more in tune with current climate.  Do we want to manage that transformation?   When?  Where?  All good questions...

Check the attached poster for some more details.
Brian Buma,
Sep 27, 2012, 2:00 PM