Abstract Detail


Baer, Kathryn C. [1].

Using Forest Inventory Data to Predict Shifting Subsistence Plant Species Distributions in Interior Alaska.

Arctic and subarctic regions are projected to experience dramatic changes to environmental conditions under future climate change. These changes are anticipated to alter the suitability of current habitat for the presence of many plant species, which may lead to shifts in their distribution across the landscape. One area in which this is of particular concern is potential changes in the distribution or abundance of important subsistence plant species. Using understory vegetation records collected by USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis crews in forested areas of the Tanana River watershed of Interior Alaska, supplemented with herbarium records for the area, I used bioclimatic and topographic predictors to model the current distribution of climatically-suitable habitat for two berry-producing subsistence species, Rubus chamaemorus (salmonberry) and Viburnum edule (highbush cranberry). I then used predictions for climatic conditions in 2070 derived from the Hadley global circulation model under the 6.0 (moderate) relative concentration pathway to predict how climatic suitability for these species (and potentially, their distributions) may change in the future. I found that the extent of climatically suitable habitat for both Rubus chamaemorus and Viburnum edule was predicted to expand under the projected future climate scenario, although the location and direction of this expansion differed among the two species. Habitat suitability for Rubus chamaemorus is anticipated to increase substantially in the western portion of the study area, a pattern that appears correlated with greater fluctuations in diurnal temperature range in that portion of the study area under the future climate projection. Decreases in mean diurnal temperature range and increased isothermality in the vicinity of communities near the eastern edge of the study area are correlated with decreased habitat suitability for this species. Climatically suitable habitat for Viburnum edule is anticipated to expand across most areas of the Tanana watershed, particularly lower-lying areas along the Tanana River corridor. This outcome is predicted to be correlated with lower temperatures in the warmest quarter of the year in these areas under the future climate scenario, despite the fact that mean annual temperature is expected to increase throughout the Tanana watershed. These models, potentially enhanced through the inclusion of detailed vegetation change predictions, may help managers to anticipate impacts of climate change to subsistence user groups. 

1 - USDA Forest Service , Pacific Northwest Research Station Anchorage Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 161 E. 1st Ave., Door #8, Anchorage, AK, 99501, USA

subsistence plants
climate change
species distribution modelling
Flora of Alaska.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: BIOG2, Biogeography II
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Time: 1:15 PM
Number: BIOG2004
Abstract ID:836
Candidate for Awards:None

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