Distributional shifts of regional forest communities in the eastern United States

Listed in Datasets

By Jonathan Knott1, Michael A. Jenkins1, Christopher M. Oswalt2, Songlin Fei1

1. Purdue University 2. USDA Forest Service

This dataset contains the distribution of forest communities across the eastern United States at T1 (1980-1995) and T2 (2015-2017) and the species comprising these communities.

Version 1.0 - published on 24 Jul 2019 doi:10.4231/F0BT-GN15 - cite this Content may change until committed to the archive on 24 Aug 2019

Licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal

Description

Forest ecosystems across the globe have been impacted by human activities.  Many studies have analyzed species-level responses to climate change, but much less attention has been paid to community-level responses.  Identifying and quantifying changes in forest tree communities can reveal how forest ecosystem functions and services are impacted by climate change and other stressors.  Utilizing the Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic model method we identified 12 regional forest communities of the eastern U.S. based on data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA).  In addition, we detected geographical shifts of these communities over the last three decades by evaluating movement of the community centroid and spatial expansion or contraction of these communities.  Of the 12 identified regional communities in the eastern U.S., 11 significantly shifted their centroids, with movement in all directions (four eastward and four westward; three northward and four southward).  Additionally, five of 12 communities had significant changes in area, with two contractions and three expansions.  The oak-pine-hickory community of the Southern Pine-Hardwood Region had the largest changes over the study period (26.5 km dec-1 shift northward and eastward and 22,361 km2 dec-1 decrease in area), while the cherry-oak community of the Central Hardwood Region was the most stable (4.1 km dec-1 shift northward and 142 km2 dec-1 increase in area).  Mixed-effects models revealed that forest-related (fire frequency, basal area, and nitrogen deposition) and climate-related (temperature, precipitation, and precipitation change) predictors of changes in community distribution were significant.  Our results may reflect the resilience of forest communities to climate change, but it may also indicate a lag between climate change and regional forest community responses. 

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Tags

The Purdue University Research Repository (PURR) is a university core research facility provided by the Purdue University Libraries, the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships, and Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP).