Invasive Species in Forests

The kudzu vine, pictured here growing on trees in Atlanta, Georgia, is an invasive species brought to the United States from Japan and initially planted in the South to control erosion. Photo: Scott Ehardt, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

A primary goal of a forest owner is to have a healthy forest. To most forest owners, a healthy forest means healthy, living trees. Indeed, inspecting your trees regularly is important. However, to maintain a healthy, thriving forest, you must take other …

Invasive Plants and Your Forests

Adapted from PINEMAP publication NC AG-771 (2013), by H. Cole, M. Megalos and C. Temple.
Original article may be found at


Invasive plants are referred to by many names: nonnative, exotic, nonindigenous, alien, or even noxious weeds. They come in all forms, including trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and ferns. Invasive plants are aggressive survivalists and exhibit distinct adaptive strategies and characteristics:

  • Grow vigorously
  • Survive in a range of conditions
  • Reproduce quickly
  • Difficult to eradicate

Invasive Plant Concerns

Invasive plants …

Acclimation and Adaptation in Plants

Adapted from: Anderson, P. and D. Chmura. Silvicultural Approaches for Adapting Forests to Climate Change. Task Force on Adapting Forests to Climate Change (TAFCC).

Plant populations may naturally adjust to climate change in three ways:

1. Altered physiology and development

Altered physiology and development in response to environmental change can occur in some plants. One example of this is environmental preconditioning. In such cases, prior exposure to water stress can induce physiological changes (osmotic adjustment) that ameliorate the

Biodiversity of Trees: Local Seed Banks and Climate Change

Adapted from: St. Clair, Brad. 2008. Genetic Resources and Climate Change. (May 23, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.


If forest managers are given the latitude and resources to go beyond local seed bank, there may be sufficient genetic resources at the landscape scale for many local tree species to survive climate change. Successful reforestation involves planted or naturally regenerated seedlings that will be suited to the site. As the climate changes, however, …

Bird Diversity and Climate Change

Adapted from: Raphael, Martin G. 2008. Effects of global climate change on birds. (October 28, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.


Birds face many challenges from climate change, with declines in diversity near the top of the list. The potential for local or continental extinctions increases with the extent of warming (Thomas et al. 2004). The measure of diversity, known as species richness, is particularly susceptible to local declines as climate changes …

Amphibian and Reptile Diversity and Climate Change

Adapted from: Lind, Amy J. 2008. Amphibians and Reptiles and Climate Change. (May 20, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.


Like many species, frogs, snakes and other amphibians and reptiles face an uncertain future as the climate changes. Amphibians have recently been documented to be experiencing global population declines (Stuart et al. 2004), and similar signs of decline may be emerging for snakes (Reading et al. 2010) and other reptiles (Gibbons et al. …

Wildlife Concerns and Climate Change

Adapted from: Ruggiero, Len; McKelvey, Kevin; Squires, John; Block, William. 2008. Wildlife and Climate Change. (May 20, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.


Climate change likely will lead to the loss of native species from extensive areas and result in increasingly scarce and fragmented populations in many others. Further changes within ecosystems will be triggered as invasive species, both plant and animal, fill the “holes” that are left as native species are …

Climate Change Impacts on Hydrology

Adapted from: Gucinski, H. 2007. Terrestrial and aquatic natural ecosystems: potential responses to global climate change. p. 41-66. In: Joyce, L., R. Haynes, R. White, R. Barbour, and R. James (eds.). Bringing climate change into natural resource management: proceedings. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-706. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 150 p.

Understanding the responses of aquatic ecosystems to climate change requires understanding how climate affects the hydrology of streams, rivers, and lakes. Aquatic habitats …

Ecosystem-Based Effects

Written by Melanie Lenart, University of Arizona

Climate largely defines where ecosystems occur on the landscape, from deserts to wetlands and tropical forests to tundra. So it’s clear that changes in climate will mean changes in ecosystems around the globe. Not all ecosystems will be displaced, but they all will face potential disruptions and the likelihood of increased disturbance from changing fire regimes and invasions of insects and exotic species.

Some of the specific challenges facing forest ecosystems are described …

Soils and Climate Change

Written by Sabrina Kleinman, University of Arizona

While the majority of climate change impacts on forests focus on tree health, soil impacts should not be overlooked. A changing climate can impact nutrient cycling, ecosystem respiration, and the storage of carbon in forests. While global models predict that climate change can increase global net primary production (NPP), regional variations in climate, nutrient availability, and water will have the largest impact on tree growth locally (Melillo et al. 1993). Most research …