Using Remotely-Sensed Land Cover and Distribution Modeling to Estimate Tree Species Migration in the Pacific Northwest Region of North America Coops, Nicholas C.; Waring, Richard H.; Plowright, Andrew; Lee, Joanna; Dilts, Thomas E.
Understanding future tree species migration is challenging due to the unprecedented rate of climate change combined with the presence of human barriers that may limit or impede species movement. Projected changes in climatic conditions outpace migration rates, and more realistic rates of range expansion are needed to make sound environmental policies. In this paper, we develop a modeling approach that takes into account both the geographic changes in the area suitable for the growth and reproduction of tree species, as well as limits imposed geographically on their potential migration using remotely-sensed land cover information. To do so, we combined a physiologically-based decision tree model with a remotely-sensed-derived diffusion-dispersal model to identify the most likely direction of future migration for 15 native tree species in the Pacific Northwest Region of North America, as well as the degree that landscape fragmentation might limit movement. Although projected changes in climate through to 2080 are likely to create favorable environments for range expansion of the 15 tree species by 65% on average, by limiting the potential movement by previously published migration rates and landscape fragmentation, range expansion will likely be 50%–90% of the potential. The hybrid modeling approach using distribution modeling and remotely-sensed data fills a gap between naïve and more complex approaches to take into account major impediments on the potential migration of native tree species.
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