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Climate Change Predicted to Hit Missouri Forest Species Hard

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National Climate Stress MapMissouri will be one of the two states with the highest ecosystem vulnerability due to climate change, according to Missouri’s Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy, a report prepared by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service. This will occur despite the fact that it is not one of the states expected to have the largest change in temperature or precipitation.

(Click on map for larger view.)

The first map at right depicts how climate stress is predicted to impact forests in the entire nation. A dark blue band of high stress extends right up the west side of the Mississippi River valley from Louisiana to Minnesota.

The report predicts that Missouri’s white oak trees will be among the species that are impacted. On the other hand, the climate is expected to become more suitable for short leaf pine. White Oak & Shortleaf PineThe next set of maps at right show the current distributions of the two species and their predicted distributions after climate change.

(Click on map for larger view.)

It is difficult to know what to make of predictions about species change. On a philosophical level, every species that exists in Missouri was a new species at some point in time. On the other hand, the large changes that are predicted and the rapid rate of change seem likely to cause disruption, and there is no guarantee that the forest that results will be as high in quality as the one we have now.

Source;

Missouri’s Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy, Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, http://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2010/08/9437_6407.pdf.

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