Ecological impacts and management strategies for western larch in the face of climate-change
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- Rehfeldt, G.E. & Jaquish, B.C. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change (2010) 15: 283. doi:10.1007/s11027-010-9217-2
Approximately 185,000 forest inventory and ecological plots from both USA and Canada were used to predict the contemporary distribution of western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.) from climate variables. The random forests algorithm, using an 8-variable model, produced an overall error rate of about 2.9 %, nearly all of which consisted of predicting presence at locations where the species was absent. Genetic variation among 143 populations within western larch’s natural distribution was predicted from multiple regression models using variables describing the climate of the seed source as predictors and response data from two separate genetic tests: 1) 15-year height at a field site in British Columbia, Canada, and, 2) two principal components of 8 variables describing growth, disease tolerance, and phenology of 6-year-old trees in a test in Idaho, USA. Presence and absence of the species and genetic variation within the species were projected into future climates provided by three General Circulation Models and two scenarios. Although the projections described pronounced impacts on the species and its populations, concurrence among the six projections pinpointed areas where the probability would be high that the future climate would be suitable for western larch. Concurrence among projections also was used to locate those sources of seed that should be best attuned genetically to future climates. The procedures outline a logical approach for developing management strategies for accommodating climate-change while taking into account the variability imposed by the differences among climatic estimates.