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Plants and animals have responded to past climate changes by migrating with habitable environments, sometimes shifting the boundaries of their geographic ranges by tens of kilometers per year or more. Species migrating in response to present climate conditions, however, must contend with landscapes fragmented by anthropogenic disturbance. We consider this problem in the context of wind-dispersed tree species. Mechanisms of long-distance seed dispersal make these species capable of rapid migration rates. Models of species-front migration suggest that even tree species with the capacity for long-distance dispersal will be unable to keep pace with future spatial changes in temperature gradients, exclusive of habitat fragmentation effects. Here we present a numerical model that captures the salient dynamics of migration by long-distance dispersal for a generic tree species. We then use the model to explore the possible effects of assisted colonization within a fragmented landscape under a simulated tree-planting scheme. Our results suggest that an assisted-colonization program could accelerate species-front migration rates enough to match the speed of climate change, but such a program would involve an environmental-sustainability intervention at a massive scale.
Lazarus, Eli D. and McGill, Brian, "Pushing the Pace of Tree Species Migration" (2014). Publications. 44.
Lazarus E.D., McGill B.J. (2014) Pushing the Pace of Tree Species Migration. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105380
© 2014 Lazarus, McGill. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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