Climatological data from the past 50 years uncover unexpected ecological trends observed in the northern hardwood forest in New England. These might change the composition as well as plant and animal biodiversity of the forest. Furthermore, these might serve as a warning sign for possible changes that could influence other northern territories as well.
This is what latest biological research on climate change uncovers. In order to fully understand and recognize the scale of possible changes, however, researchers are convinced that other factors must be studied and understood first, including intertwined patterns of soils, vegetation, water flow paths, and of course human influence.
The latest issue of BioScience contains an article on the responses of forest species in New England to increased temperatures in spring. The team, led by Peter M Groffman, looked at long-term variations and patterns in data from Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.
The researchers noted a steady increase in the length of the interval between snowmelt and full leaf growth reaching 8 days, over the analyzed period. This affects both forest’s flora and fauna. For example, on one hand, the decline in snowpack, resulting from increased stream flow in winter and summer, has favored deer species at the expense of moose. On the other hand, the population of soil inhabitants is endangered by freezing temperatures, consequently affecting birds that feed on them.
According to the team, further research to focus on various landscapes, particularly those affected by biological invaders. The scientists recommend that future work should make use of the different variations in temperature due to different elevation levels in order to explore the effects of possible warming. .