The Science of Denali's Changing Landscape
The article summarizes work by scientists with the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring program. They examined over 1100 study plots in a 4.5 million-acre area of Denali National Park across 10 years to describe forest communities and draw connections between tree species, habitat, and environmental characteristics. The researchers then used their extensive set of results to evaluate several common hypotheses on how forests of the north will respond to climate change. The result is a study of unprecedented scale that paints an unbiased picture of the diversity of the landscape and sets the stage for tracking future changes in interior Alaska.
In contrast to some previous studies, the authors report that white spruce (Picea glauca) may respond favorably to warming conditions by increasing in abundance and distribution by expanding into newly thawed terrain. In addition, this study reports no current evidence for a large-scale shift from spruce to broadleaf forests in the lowlands of Denali National Park, where coniferous forests still dominate the landscape.
“We now have a solid baseline from which to measure changes and just as importantly, the causes of those changes,” said Carl Roland, biologist with the National Park Service and lead author on the article.
“The effects of climate change can already be seen in Alaska, and this study demonstrates the value of long-term monitoring programs to our collective knowledge about these vast areas.”
- Complete article (PDF, 6.4 mb)
- Press release highlighting article (PDF)
- Vegetation Monitoring in Central Alaska
- Vegetation Monitoring in Southwest Alaska
- Vegetation Monitoring in Arctic Alaska
- Aspen Phenology in Central Alaska (PDF)
- Vegetation in Central Alaska (PDF)
- Shrub Expansion in the Arctic (PDF)
- Landscape Dynamics in the Arctic (PDF)
- Vegetation in the Arctic (PDF)
- Forest Disease in SW Alaska (PDF)
- Landscape Change in SW Alaska (PDF)
- Sensitive Plant Communities in SW Alaska (PDF)
- Vegetation in SW Alaska (PDF)
- Climate-related Vegetation Changes(PDF)
- Tree Shifts in Denali (PDF)
- Permafrost Landscapes (PDF)
- How Are Permafrost Landscapes Changing? (PDF)