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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2017

  • Title: Climatic response of Chamaecyparis thyoides trees and populations along the eastern U.S. seaboard
  • Primary Author: Caroline Leland (Columbia University in the City of New York)
  • Additional Authors: Kevin Anchukaitis (University of Arizona); Daniel Bishop (Harvard Forest); Dario Martin Benito (Columbia University in the City of New York); Jessie Pearl (University of Arizona); Neil Pederson (Harvard Forest)
  • Abstract:

    Restricted to a narrow band along the eastern U.S. seaboard, Chamaecyparis thyoides is the singular species in eastern North America of the genus Chamaecyparis. Because it typically creates dense forests and is restricted to wetlands near the coast, it provides a regionally-unique ecosystem. Prior research indicated that, climatically speaking, Chamaecyparis thyoides from New Jersey to Maine might increase its growth rate in response to warming. For more inland populations from Massachusetts north, its growth is generally positively related to warming temperatures in the winter, spring, and early summer. The climatic response of Chamaecyparis thyoides across its range, however, has not been fully investigated. Through an NSF-funded project, we are investigating the climate response of Chamaecyparis thyoides populations from a network built over the last 14 years that covers Maine to South Carolina. Specifically, we are investigating its climatic sensitivity at three different spatial scales: tree, site, and what we define as a common region. Early investigations indicate regions with broadly coherent patterns of growth, the Northeast (Maine to Massachusetts), the Mid Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), and the Southeast (eastern shore of Maryland to central South Carolina). Supporting prior research, trees in Northeast are most strongly limited by cool winter temperatures. Trees in the Mid Atlantic are most strongly and virtually evenly limited by cool winters and dry summers. Trees in the Southeast have a less coherent climatic response, but drought early in the growing season is the most common climatic sensitivity. Investigations at the tree and site scale will help us discern interactions between climate and stand structure (composition, density, various measures of diversity) on the annual to decadal variations in growth as well as the coherence of in climatic sensitivity of canopy Chamaecyparis thyoides at the population level.

  • Research Category: Regional Studies; Physiological Ecology, Population Dynamics, and Species Interactions; Historical and Retrospective Studies; Group Projects; Conservation and Management