How a Changing Climate Can Affect Tree Health

Written by Eli Sagor

A changing climate will affect different forest stands in different ways, depending on a wide variety of factors including stand vigor, species and age class diversity, soils, water availability, and the ways that climate changes. For example, reduced soil moisture as a result of changing rainfall patterns will affect some species differently than others.

Here is what we know:

  1. The trees thriving in a given forest stand are well adapted to the current and recent

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 …

Biodiversity and Climate Change

Grassland BiodiversityClimate change poses a significant threat to biological diversity in forests. Learn the major changes that are expected.


Adapted from: Manley, P. 2008. Biodiversity and Climate Change. (May 20, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.


Biological diversity is essential to maintaining ecosystem processes and services. Climate change poses a significant threat to biological diversity (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Before climate change became an acknowledged threat, biological diversity was considered at risk at regional …

Insects in Forests

Written by Peter Kolb, Montana State University

Figure 1. Some common tree-inhabiting beetles including large staghorn beetles (center), roundheaded borers (left), and a variety of much smaller bark beetles (right). Photo courtesy of Peter Kolb, Montana State University.

Insects perform many roles within forests as pollinators, herbivores, carnivores, decomposers, and food sources for other organisms. As a group, they are the most abundant and important group in the phylum Arthropoda, and by 1972 more than 900,000 species had already been …