Forest Demography

IMG_5395 copyInfluence of local climate, climate fluctuations, and compounding disturbance on distributional and demographic patterns of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata)

There is concern that the increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation regimes predicted under a changing climate will further impact the distribution and success of forest species, and this concern is magnified for rare, endemic conifers. The distribution of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) encompasses five, discrete populations in Central and Baja California, including the Cambria Monterey pine forest. Monterey pine is hypothesized to have once been widespread across the California coast during the Pleistocene but declined in distribution following the warming and drying of the Holocene. A boom-and-bust cycle of population dynamics appears to be characteristic of this species, but little is know about the micro- and macroclimate drivers of these changes. Under current drought conditions, an absence of fire, and threats of continued climatic stress, Monterey pine health and survival is likely to be further impacted, and the response of this species is unknown. Our work will quantify ecological and climatic requirements for success and evaluate the potential response of this species to changing climate. We are utilizing both long-term, established transects (14+ years of sampling) in conjunction with a new. highly-replicated long-term plot network to track demographic patterns as a function of disturbance, changing climate, and active management.  Kevin Hurt and Matt Terzes initiated this study for their senior projects and will be continuing this research for their Master’s work in the lab.