Project Details


The International Panel on Climate Change has reported that the linear warming trend in global surface temperature over the 50 years from 1956 to 2005 was nearly twice that for the 100 years from 1906 to 2005. Temperature increase is global in scale, but at high northern latitudes is noticeably more intense. Rising temperatures in the northeastern United States have impacted forest health.A breakdown in the resilience of forested landscapes opens pathways for pathogen and pest loading for vulnerable forest species, as well as a decline in abiotic stress tolerances, and long term vulnerability to climate change is anticipated. The USDA Tree Atlas models suitable habitat distributions of 134 northeastern forest species under changing climatic conditions for the next 50 years, based on three different CO2 emissions mitigation scenarios. Current forest landscapes are shifting northward and are being altered. This abrupt change in environmental conditions in the northeast is impacting forest health, ecosystem equilibrium and services, and industries dependent on the existing forest composition. In order to retain important northeastern forest species, it is necessary to investigate biological systems for sources of adaptation, providing sustainable management practices while facilitating an adaptable shift into the predicted, but not defined, future climate. This project represents a novel investigation within the hard maple complex undeveloped in the literature, which provides insights into our understanding of both climate change effects and methods for response to address such change without displacement of other components of the forested ecosystems related to the species. Our proposal is aimed at Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum Marsh., a uniquely valuable northeastern forest species that is not equipped for persistence in situ, in the face of dramatic climactic shift, and whose range is already shifting northward as a consequence. Sugar maple has been declining in the United States due to its inability to tolerate moderate periods of drought, high temperatures, and a need for soils rich in nutrients. Even while occupying only 9% of the hardwood-forested land in the United States at this time, Sugar Maple has a major impact on community identity and commerce throughout the northeastern U.S. Once supplying 80% of the world's maple sugar production, the U.S. now produces only 20% of the global product. In Vermont, the maple sugar industry provides close to 4000 seasonal jobs and generates more than $100 million annually. For an overview of the impacts of environmental change on the maple sugar industry in the U.S. see the 2001 NERA report. Biotic and abiotic disturbance events resulting from climate change such as drought, insects, and fire could have immediate effects on the presence of sugar maple in the northeast if they surpass critical thresholds. In the northeastern U.S., the pest/host interaction between Sugar Maple and the forest tent caterpillar (FTC) is an example. The rate of habitat shift exceeds the potential of species to migrate; hence, forest composition will shift. We can look within the geographic ranges of closely related species to abate the ecological, commercial, and industrial impacts resulting from loss of northeastern forest types. Woody biomass is considered an important renewable source of energy in the U.S. and around the world. The lack of synchronicity between the alteration in the forest landscape and availability of suitable habitats will have a major impact on its capacity to function as a contributor to energy solutions. Providing researchers with the limitations within forest species to thrive in future climates creates a blueprint for breeding programs with interest in this area. The naturally occurring carbon sinks that are created by the world's forests offset greenhouse gas accumulation in significant amounts and New Jersey recognizes the importance of establishing a resilient forest landscape in the future. Through annatomical, morphological and, physiological investigation, we will be able to determine the genetic variation within the hard maple group. Gauging the variation in plant response to the exisitng environment will lead us to those individuals that are best equipped for survival as global climates change and plants are exposed to novel environments.
Effective start/end date7/1/139/30/16


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))

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