Compilation by Robyn Darbyshire

Hulshof, C. M., N. G. Swenson, et al. (2015). “Tree height–diameter allometry across the United States.” Ecology and Evolution 5(6): 1193-1204.

The relationship between tree height and diameter is fundamental in determining community and ecosystem structure as well as estimates of biomass and carbon storage. Yet our understanding of how tree allometry relates to climate and whole organismal function is limited. We used the Forest Inventory and Analysis National Program database to determine height–diameter allometries of 2,976,937 individuals of 293 tree species across the United States. The shape of the allometric relationship was determined by comparing linear and nonlinear functional forms. Mixed-effects models were used to test for allometric differences due to climate and floristic (between angiosperms and gymnosperms) and functional groups (leaf habit and shade tolerance). Tree allometry significantly differed across the United States largely because of climate. Temperature, and to some extent precipitation, in part explained tree allometric variation. The magnitude of allometric variation due to climate, however, had a phylogenetic signal. Specifically, angiosperm allometry was more sensitive to differences in temperature compared to gymnosperms. Most notably, angiosperm height was more negatively influenced by increasing temperature variability, whereas gymnosperm height was negatively influenced by decreasing precipitation and increasing altitude. There was little evidence to suggest that shade tolerance influenced tree allometry except for very shade-intolerant trees which were taller for any given diameter. Tree allometry is plastic rather than fixed and scaling parameters vary around predicted central tendencies. This allometric variation provides insight into life-history strategies, phylogenetic history, and environmental limitations at biogeographical scales.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1328


Prera, A., K. Grimsrud, et al. (2014). “Using Canonical Correlation Analysis to Identify Environmental Attitude Groups: Considerations for National Forest Planning in the Southwestern U.S.” Environmental Management 54(4): 756-767.

As public land management agencies pursue region-specific resource management plans, with meaningful consideration of public attitudes and values, there is a need to characterize the complex mix of environmental attitudes in a diverse population. The contribution of this investigation is to make use of a unique household, mail/internet survey data set collected in 2007 in the Southwestern United States (Region 3 of the U.S. Forest Service). With over 5,800 survey responses to a set of 25 Public Land Value statements, canonical correlation analysis is able to identify 7 statistically distinct environmental attitudinal groups. We also examine the effect of expected changes in regional demographics on overall environmental attitudes, which may help guide in the development of socially acceptable long-term forest management policies. Results show significant support for conservationist management policies and passive environmental values, as well as a greater role for stakeholder groups in generating consensus for current and future forest management policies.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-014-0349-0


Thompson, M. P. (2014). “Social, Institutional, and Psychological Factors Affecting Wildfire Incident Decision Making.” Society & Natural Resources 27(6): 636-644.

Managing wildland fire incidents can be fraught with complexity and uncertainty. Myriad human factors can exert significant influence on incident decision making, and can contribute additional uncertainty regarding programmatic evaluations of wildfire management and attainment of policy goals. This article develops a framework within which human sources of uncertainty in wildfire management can be classified and managed, specifically identifying social, institutional, and psychological factors that can affect wildland fire incident decision making. These factors are reviewed in the context of wildland fire incident management and the literature regarding fire manager decision making. I then provide specific recommendations for addressing these issues, with a focus on improving incident decision processes. Extending this framework to consider a broader set of human factors and to consider how human factors affect the broader wildfire management spectrum could lead to improved fire management outcomes.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2014.901460


Munoz, N. J., A. P. Farrell, et al. (2015). “Adaptive potential of a Pacific salmon challenged by climate change.” Nature Clim. Change 5(2): 163-166.

Pacific salmon provide critical sustenance for millions of people worldwide and have far-reaching impacts on the productivity of ecosystems. Rising temperatures now threaten the persistence of these important fishes, yet it remains unknown whether populations can adapt. Here, we provide the first evidence that a Pacific salmon has both physiological and genetic capacities to increase its thermal tolerance in response to rising temperatures. In juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), a 4 °C increase in developmental temperature was associated with a 2 °C increase in key measures of the thermal performance of cardiac function. Moreover, additive genetic effects significantly influenced several measures of cardiac capacity, indicative of heritable variation on which selection can act. However, a lack of both plasticity and genetic variation was found for the arrhythmic temperature of the heart, constraining this upper thermal limit to a maximum of 24.5 ± 2.2 °C. Linking this constraint on thermal tolerance with present-day river temperatures and projected warming scenarios, we predict a 17% chance of catastrophic loss in the population by 2100 based on the average warming projection, with this chance increasing to 98% in the maximum warming scenario. Climate change mitigation is thus necessary to ensure the future viability of Pacific salmon populations.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2473


Alfaro, R. I., B. Fady, et al. (2014). “The role of forest genetic resources in responding to biotic and abiotic factors in the context of anthropogenic climate change.” Forest Ecology and Management 333: 76-87.

The current distribution of forest genetic resources on Earth is the result of a combination of natural processes and human actions. Over time, tree populations have become adapted to their habitats including the local ecological disturbances they face. As the planet enters a phase of human-induced climate change of unprecedented speed and magnitude, however, previously locally-adapted populations are rendered less suitable for new conditions, and ‘natural’ biotic and abiotic disturbances are taken outside their historic distribution, frequency and intensity ranges. Tree populations rely on phenotypic plasticity to survive in extant locations, on genetic adaptation to modify their local phenotypic optimum or on migration to new suitable environmental conditions. The rate of required change, however, may outpace the ability to respond, and tree species and populations may become locally extinct after specific, but as yet unknown and unquantified, tipping points are reached. Here, we review the importance of forest genetic resources as a source of evolutionary potential for adaptation to changes in climate and other ecological factors. We particularly consider climate-related responses in the context of linkages to disturbances such as pests, diseases and fire, and associated feedback loops. The importance of management strategies to conserve evolutionary potential is emphasised and recommendations for policy-makers are provided.

FULL TEXT LINK: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037811271400231X