The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky U.S.)
Monday, September 17, 2007

UPDATED: 1:24 PM
Wildlife managers mull climate change impacts

By James Bruggers
jbruggers@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal

An association of wildlife managers is taking on global warming for the first time at
its annual conference this week in Louisville.

With decisions being made now on how to address global warming, wildlife managers “need to
be at the table,” said Rachel Brittin, spokeswoman for the Association of Fish & Wildlife
Agencies, which is meeting at the Galt House through Thursday.

About 800 people are expected to attend the conference, she said.

During a keynote address and two panel discussions this morning, participants heard how
climate changes were already affecting fish and wildlife, and how an anticipated warming
in the coming decades could put some species, such as ducks and trout, under extreme stress.

Wildlife managers will need to support efforts to reduce emissions and enhance the planet’s
ability to absorb greenhouse gases, said Virginia Burkett, chief scientist for global change
research at the U.S. Geological Survey.

They will also need to help fish and wildlife species and the public adapt to the changes, she added.

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Joint Meeting : Ecological Society of America &
Society for Ecological Restoration
Thursday, August 9, 2007: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
B3&4, San Jose McEnery Convention Center

OOS 42 – Climate-induced forest dieback as an
emergent global phenomenon: Patterns, mechanisms,
and projections

Evidence of climate change effects on the
biosphere is accumulating rapidly, including
recent examples of climate-induced forest
dieback. Although relatively few examples of
widespread forest dieback events have been
documented to-date, some mortality events have
had extensive ecological impacts. Increasing
numbers of recent studies demonstrate forest
stress and dieback at local to regional scales,
but currently lacking is a global overview of
forest dieback, and sufficient mechanistic
knowledge to enable accurate modeling and
predictions of climate-induced woody plant
mortality.

The overall goal of this organized oral session
is to present a current synthesis of forest
dieback as an emergent global phenomenon, which
will include: (1) a globally comprehensive
overview and synthesis developed from ongoing
research, case studies, and existing literature;
(2) continental-scale summaries of mortality
patterns and processes of climate-induced dieback
from around the world, including detailed case
studies; (3) plant physiological perspectives on
water use, carbon balance, and resistance to
insect attacks, emphasizing current understanding
and knowledge gaps; and (4) current and potential
applications of available knowledge to regional
and global scale modeling and prediction of
forest dieback, key areas needed to improve
current models, and existing and potential
applications to assessments and mitigation of
potential climate change impacts. We will
evaluate the extent to which recently observed
dieback events are unusual relative to historic
background patterns.

Our session documents climate-induced forest
dieback from all forested continents, including:
1) drought impacts in Patagonia and the Amazon
Basin; 2) dieback of multiple forest species in
the West African Sahel; 3) dieback of several
European species of Pinus and Quercus in multiple
mountain ranges across Mediterranean Portugal,
Spain, and France; 4) eucalyptus dieback in
Australia; and 5) substantial episodes of recent
forest mortality in North America from Alaska to
Mexico, such as >1,000,000 ha of pinyon (Pinus
edulis) dieback in the southwestern US since
2002. These case studies are highly relevant to a
broad array of ecologists because they represent
vegetation changes in response to climate
variation and change that can span across
individuals, populations, communities, and
ecosystems.

Organizer:      Craig D. Allen, Jemez Mountains Field Station
Co-organizer:      David D. Breshears, University of Arizona
Moderator:     David D. Breshears, University of Arizona

1:30 PM OOS 42-5                Climate-induced
forest dieback as an emergent global phenomenon:
Overview and synthesis
Craig D. Allen, U.S. Geological Survey, Jemez
Mountains Field Station, David D. Breshears,
University of Arizona, Nathan L. Stephenson,
United States Geological Survey, Phillip J. Van
Mantgem, United States Geological Survey

1:50 PM OOS 42-6                Drought
down-under: Dieback controls of tree dynamics in
Australian savanna
Roderick J. Fensham, Queensland Herbarium

2:10 PM OOS 42-7                Rapid forest
dieback and warm drought in Northern Patagonia,
South America
Thomas Kitzberger, Universidad Nacional del
Comahue, Marí­a Laura Suarez, Universidad Nacional
del Comahue

2:30 PM OOS 42-8                Climate-induced
dieback of forest species and a shift of
vegetation zones across West Africa
Patrick Gonzalez, The Nature Conservancy, Compton
J. Tucker, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, Hamady Sy, Réseau du Systí¨me
d’Alerte Précoce contre la Famine

2:50 PM OOS 42-9                Forest dieback in
Europe: Climate drivers, symptoms, and
physiological processes
Jorge Castro, Universidad de Granada, Carlos A.
Gracia, Universidad de Barcelona, Regino Zamora,
Universidad de Granada, Rafael Navarro,
Universidad de Cordoba, Michel Vennetier,
CEMAGREF, Claude Gadbin-Henry, Institut
Méditerranéen d’Ecologie et Paléoécologie,
Laurent Borgniet, CEMAGREF

3:20 PM OOS 42-2                Dieback of
forests and woodlands across elevational
gradients in response to global-change-type
drought in the southwestern US, North America

Neil Cobb, Northern Arizona University, Kirsten
Ironside, Northern Arizona University, John D.
Shaw, USDA Forest Service, Kiona Ogle, University
of Wyoming, Craig D. Allen, Jemez Mountains Field
Station, David D. Breshears, University of
Arizona, Michael Clifford, Northern Arizona
University

3:40 PM OOS 42-1                Causes and
impacts of woody canopy dieoff in a semi-arid
woodland: Role of climate, pathogens, and
phenology

Amanda B. White, Los Alamos National Laboratory,
Donatella Pasqualini, Los Alamos National
Laboratory, Paul M. Rich, Creekside Center for
Earth Observation, Nate McDowell, Los Alamos
National Laboratory, David D. Breshears,
University of Arizona

4:00 PM OOS 42-4                Modeling the
future redistribution of pinyon-juniper woodland
species

Kirsten Ironside, Northern Arizona University,
Kenneth L. Cole, USGS Southwest Biological
Science Center, Neil Cobb, Northern Arizona
University, John D. Shaw, USDA Forest Service,
Phillip Duffy, Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory

4:20 PM OOS 42-3                A hydraulic
framework for understanding mechanisms of woody
plant survival and mortality during drought

Nate G. McDowell, Los Alamos National Laboratory,
Will Pockman, University of New Mexico

4:40 PM OOS 42-10               Global modeling
and prediction of climate-induced forest dieback

Ronald P. Neilson, USDA Forest Service, Dominique
Bachelet, The Nature Conservancy, Stephen W.
Running, Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group,
________________________________________________________-

———————-
“It is like my grandmother suddenly growing
taller and dunking a basketball or playing
football,” said Pederson. “It’s not supposed to
happen.”

“Pederson’s ring research also shows that younger
trees are growing faster at the same stage of
life compared to their old-growth ancestors, said
Pederson. It’s hard to say what that might mean
for tree longevity, but both researchers say it
is possible that sped-up trees might die sooner.”
——————-

StarTribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.)
September 14, 2007 – 10:31 AM

Trees telling a tale of climate change

Tree-growth patterns may be just one more indication of global warming.

By Brian Nearing, Albany Times Union

ESPERANCE, N.Y. – If a grandmother suddenly
started growing, something would be amiss. Now
research has found that something similar is
happening to the nation’s oldest trees.

Clues found in old-growth tree rings from
Michigan to Maine show an increasing growth spurt
during the last century, possibly from global
climate change, according to Neil Pederson, an
assistant professor at Eastern Kentucky
University.

Normally, trees, like people, slow growth as they
age, said Pederson. But ring patterns in oaks,
poplars and cedars — some up to 400 years old —
instead show trees started growing faster in
recent decades.

“It is like my grandmother suddenly growing
taller and dunking a basketball or playing
football,” said Pederson. “It’s not supposed to
happen.”

He said it is likely that global warming is
behind the change. “The most important factor to
limit growth in trees is low winter temperature,”
he said.

Since starting his research while at the
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia
University in New York City, Pederson has
collected more than 1,600 tree ring samples. In
New York state, some specimens came from Fred
Breglia, horticulture and operations director of
Landis Arboretum in Esperance.

Winter has been gradually retreating from New
York and neighboring states for four decades,
according to research by Cameron Wake, a
professor at the Climate Change Research Center
at the University of New Hampshire.

In the 1970s, there was an average of 87 days
with snow on the ground — two weeks longer than
now. Average winter temperatures have climbed 4.5
degrees.

Warmer weather also means more rain to fuel tree
growth. Snow now accounts for about 70 percent of
winter precipitation, down from 80 percent,
according to Wake.

In looking at rings from 230 Atlantic white
cedars from Maine to North Carolina, he found
trees from New Jersey and north showed
accelerated growth rates for the last 80 years,
while trees south of that were unchanged.

Breglia agreed with Pederson’s view. He said he
has also seen similar growth spurt patterns in
600-year-old black gums that he sampled in
Saratoga County, N.Y., which is the northernmost
edge of the species range.

Pederson’s ring research also shows that younger
trees are growing faster at the same stage of
life compared to their old-growth ancestors, said
Pederson. It’s hard to say what that might mean
for tree longevity, but both researchers say it
is possible that sped-up trees might die sooner.

© 2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

______________________________________________________

—————–
“Even more worrying, a study conducted by ICRAM, Italy’s marine
research institute, indicates the temperature increases are creeping
into the cold depths of the Mediterranean.

“These temperature rises could wipe out ‘up to 50 percent of the
species,’ the study said.”
———————————————————————————–

Associated Press
Experts: Climate Change Puts Sea at Risk

By ARIEL DAVID – 14 hours ago

ROME (AP) – Climate change is affecting Europe faster than the rest
of the world and rising temperatures could transform the
Mediterranean into a salty and stagnant sea, Italian experts said
Wednesday.

Warmer waters and increased salinity could doom many of the sea’s
plant and animal species and ravage the fishing industry, warned
participants at a two-day climate change conference that brought
together some 2,000 scientists and officials in Rome.

“Europe and the Mediterranean are warming up faster than the rest of
the world,” said climatologist Filippo Giorgi. “It’s a climate change
hot spot, one of the areas where we actually see the change
happening.”

Scientists still don’t know why the region is more sensitive to
climate change, but Giorgi said that in the next decades, temperature
increases hitting Europe during the summer months could be 40 percent
to 50 percent higher than elsewhere.

Giorgi said the effects would be similar to those felt during the
deadly summer of 2003, when the extraordinary heat was blamed for the
deaths of tens of thousands of people in Europe and millions of
dollars in agricultural losses.

“That was a one-in-a-million freak event, but in the future it will
be the norm for the summer,” said Giorgi, who is a top official in
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. network of
2,000 scientists.

The change is also being felt at sea level, with a surface
temperature increase of 1 degree every decade, said Vincenzo Ferrara,
an Italian government adviser on climate.

“The Mediterranean is becoming warmer and saltier” due to increased
evaporation, Ferrara told the conference, which was held at the
Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Ferrara said this could disrupt the flow at the Strait of Gibraltar,
a key gateway to the Mediterranean. The higher salt concentration in
the Mediterranean would cause water to flow out into the Atlantic
Ocean, as opposed to Atlantic water coming into the Mediterranean,
which serves as the sea’s lifeline.

Even more worrying, a study conducted by ICRAM, Italy’s marine
research institute, indicates the temperature increases are creeping
into the cold depths of the Mediterranean.

Measurements conducted last winter off Italy’s western coast at a
depth of up to 300 feet showed temperatures were about 3.6 degrees
above average.

Temperature differences between the sea’s layers create the currents
that allow the Mediterranean’s waters to mix and bring up fresh
nutrients to feed the algae that form the basic diet of most fish
species, according to the study.

These temperature rises could wipe out “up to 50 percent of the
species,” the study said. The decline in the algae population
measured last winter also reduced by 30 percent the sea’s ability to
absorb carbon dioxide, one of the gases blamed by scientists for
heating the atmosphere like a greenhouse.

“Ocean-atmosphere processes are dynamically changing in response to
anthropogenic forcing.” Parmesan, Camille. “Ecological and
Evolutionary Responses to Recent Climate Change.” Annual Review of
Evolution, Ecology, and Systematics. 2006. 37: 637-69

_______________________________________________________________________–

SCIENCE
VOL 317 14 SEPTEMBER 2007

Can Palm Oil Plantations Come Clean?

Under fire for their poor environmental record, makers of the world’s
top vegetable oil are turning to scientists for advice on how to make their
industry sustainable

ECOLOGY

NEWSFOCUS

TELUK INTAN, MALAYSIA-A canary-yellow machine lumbers onto a fallow
oil palm field and, with a roar of its motor, rips into a pile of fronds and
shavings of dead trunks. As plantation operators and scientists
observe the mulching process, their guide, Cheriachangel
Mathews, a senior manager at United Plantations’Jendarata Estate,
warns that the group has been infiltrated. “We have a journalist with us,” he says. “I
want him and all of you to know that nothing here-nothing-is wasted.”

Mathews has good reason to be concerned about the take-home message.
With prices soaring, palm oil, Malaysia’s number-one crop, has recently surpassed
soybean as the top-selling vegetable oil in the world. Oil squeezed from palm fruit
bunches is an ingredient in myriad products, from ice cream to soap, and it is being
touted as a biofuel that can stem reliance on fossil fuels. But the industry has been taking a
mulching in the press. Environmental groups have accused plantations of razing
forests to plant the lucrative crop and slaughtering orangutans that pilfer and eat the fruit.

Hoping to turn over a new frond, the oil palm industry is now
endeavoring to demon- strate its sustainability. It faces an uphill battle.

A just-completed review by three dozen academics details species
declines pinned on the oil palm, a native of West Africa that has become a dominant feature
of Southeast Asia’s landscape. It is an “unavoidable fact that the
replacement of diverse tropical forest with an exotic monoculture
significantly impacts biodiversity,” states the Biodiversity and Oil
Palm Briefing Document. It will be presented at a gathering in
November of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), in which
industry officials, scientists, and other parties are hammering out a
voluntary certification scheme for minimizing harm to the environment.

Scientists and like-minded industry insiders hoping to curb
destructive growth may get help from the market. Rising palm oil prices are strangling demand
for palm as a biofuel, Edgare Kerkwijk, managing director of the BioX Group, a
renewable-energy company in Singapore, told the International Palm Oil Congress in Kuala
Lumpur late last month. That’s bitter news for companies in Southeast Asia that have been
racing to ramp up capacity to process palm into biodiesel. With crude
palm oil now topping $700 per ton, “we believe that palm oil is not a long-term bio-fuel,”
Kerkwijk said.

The industry, nevertheless, is riding high.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO), global palm oil production last year was 37 million tons, 85% from Indonesia
and Malaysia. Palm oil yields-2.8 tons per hectare, on average-are seven times
those of soybean oil, according to FAO. Aiming for even higher yields, the Asiatic
Centre for Genome Technology in Kuala Lumpur and Synthetic Genomics, a company in
Rockville, Maryland, founded by J. Craig Venter, in July announced a partnership to
sequence and analyze the oil palm genome.Higher yields are vital to an industry
looking to clean up its act. Seen from the air, peninsular Malaysia
is a patchwork of settlements and plantations interspersed with
forest; in 2003, the peninsula had more than half of the country’s
3.7 million hectares of oil palm.

Malaysian officials maintain that plantations are now allowed to
expand only onto existing agricultural fields or degraded land. Indonesia
is a different story.  There, renegade plantations fuel expansion through timber
sales. “At the state level, there are no clear limits on plantation growth,”
says Reza Azmi, director of Wild Asia, a company in Kuala Lumpur that
is advising plantations in both countries on how to limit their
environmental footprint.

RSPO was formed 5 years ago to turn the positive environmental record
of outfits suchas United Plantations into a competitive advantage through the
certification of “sustainable palm oil.” To bolster this effort, a network of
researchers drew on a wealth of data to assess the impact of plantations on biodiversity.

An advanced draft of the document provided to Science paints a grim
picture. The authors, led by Emily Fitzherbert of the Zooogical Society of London,
summarize research documenting shifts in biodiversity in and around
plantations. In Sumatra, for example, less than 10% of birds
and mammals found in primary forests live
in plantations, and more than 75% of bat species were lost; in
Thailand, 41 bird species were found in plantations, com- pared to
108 species in nearby tropical forests.

“Plantations need to accept that oil palm is not compatible with
biodiversity,” says report co-author Matthew Struebig of Queen Mary,
University of London, U.K. “Environmental groups and scientists need to work with,
not against, the industry to help them minimize this impact.”

The document delivers a clear bottom line to RSPO: “The most
immediate and important action needed to prevent further biodiversity
loss is to ensure that oil palm expansion does not contribute to
deforestation.” The report also highlights how pro-active management
can reduce species losses, for example by salvaging native stands
inside plantations. Wild Asia is working with plantations on plans to
link fragments into “natural corridors” and set aside
50 of every 2000 hectares for forest regeneration. “Two years ago,”
says Azmi, “this dis-cussion would never have happened.”

-RICHARD STONE

Published by AAAS

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