Will future weather favor Minnesota's woody invaders?
Peter Reich, Forest Resources
Minnesota boasts around 17 million acres of forestland – an area larger than the state of West Virginia. The value these lands bring our state in timber, recreation, tourism and environmental health and diversity is enormous. Unfortunately, our forests face increasing pressures from invasive species and changing weather.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii, Lonicera tatarica) and buckthorn (Frangula alnus, Rhamnus cathartica) are two invasive shrubs that have already taken hold across central and southern regions of the state. As temperatures and precipitation levels stand to change over time, these shrubs may be poised to become a bigger problem in Minnesota's northern forests as well.
Researchers engaged in this project will begin by mapping the current distribution of invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn across Minnesota. They will then compare how invasive and native trees fare under both current and potential future weather conditions. Ultimately, this will help managers identify possible future "hotspots" of invasion. The team will also test the success of vegetation barrier zones for slowing the spread of invasive shrubs.
- What are the growth responses to woody invasives and native trees species to past and current climate conditions?
- What is the potential threat for future woody invasive spread, statewide and in northern forests?
- What are effective methods of creating local barriers to woody invasive spread?
This project will provide managers with detailed maps of both current and projected future distribution of woody invaders across Minnesota. It will also test new approaches to slowing their spread. Together, these tools will allow agencies to plan ahead for future “hot-spots” of invasion.
The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Johns Hopkins University
Peter Reich, principal investigator
Rebecca Montgomery, co-principal investigator
Artur Stefanski, PhD. candidate
News & Publications
- "In fast-warming Minnesota, scientists are trying to plant the forests of the future" Washington Post, 2020
- "UMN study says Minnesota forests will change with climate" Pioneer Press, 2015