Warming global temperatures threaten tree species diversity

June 11, 2019


Translated from Latin, “Pennsylvania” means “Penn’s Woods,” making it alarming when the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said that tens of thousands of acres of the state’s trees are at risk because of climate change.

Mountain maples, American beeches, balsam firs, paper birches and quaking aspens may not adapt quickly enough to a warming climate to avoid dying out, the Pennsylvania DCNR wrote in a recent blog post. The state agency suggests shifting to “change resilient” trees, but with 2.2 million acres of state forest, 121 state parks and 15 million acres of private forests, that’s no small feat.

The DCNR released a climate change adaptation plan last year in a report that detailed the issues the state’s forest face with rising temperatures, more frequent storms and wetter years.

The report found Pennsylvania has seen a temperature increase of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the early 20th century, coinciding with the onset of fossil fuels as the nation’s primary energy source.

The U.S. as a whole has seen an increase in the frequency of very hot days, higher annual precipitation and heavy storms, and Indiana is no exception. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has also shown concern for tree species’ survival in the face of a changing climate.

Not only are there pressures from rainier seasons and warming temperatures, but pests like the emerald ash borer and sudden oak death are threatening to push certain species to extinction.

The Indiana DNR are using extreme vigilance to fight these pests, trying to stop their spread and educate the public on what they can do to protect Indiana trees. To learn more about what you can do to help stop emerald ash borer or sudden oak death, visit the DNR Entomology & Plant Pathology webpage.

Warming global temperatures threaten tree species diversity


Climate change reduces the diversity of tree species in Indiana and beyond.