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article imageTrees migrating North due to warming

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Feb 12, 2009 in Environment
A study conducted by U.S. Forest Service has found that some tree species in the Eastern United States are migrating North at a rate not seen before. Some of them are moving at an average clip of 62 miles (100 kilometers) a century.
We see thousands of birds migrating every year from North to South in the Northern hemisphere during winter. But the birds aren't the only things migrating across the landscape, trees are also migrating. Migration of trees mean movement of forests towards the North. Unlike the birds, tree migration is only a matter of inches in a year.
The study team was led by Chris Woodall, of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minnesota. The authors documented the northward march of 40 major tree species over 30 eastern states based on the distribution of seedlings versus mature trees. According to the study, if the current migration trends continue, Yellow birch forests in the Northern U.S may move well north of the Canadian border by the beginning of the next century.
The study used a sample of 15 Northern species, 15 Southern species, and 10 species found in both regions. The researchers compared the older trees with the newer ones, where they found that eleven of the fifteen Northern trees have shifted North by latitude.The trees shifted North include Northern white cedar, American basswood, sugar maple, black ash, bigtooth aspen, and yellow birch. Global warming could have played a role in the unusual Northern movement of the trees.
Dan Botkin, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said the movement of forests can have economic implications also.
Such a fast migration has the potential for economic busts. Northern Pennsylvania and southern New York State are where the best white ash for baseball bats are grown. So few [people in those states] would be happy if the trees head north.
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