Funding was provided by USDA AFRI (2012-68002-19896) and USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station.
Resilience, the ability to recover from disturbance, has risen to the forefront of scientific policy, but is difficult to quantify, particularly in large, forested landscapes subject to disturbances, management, and climate change.
Our objective was to determine which spatial drivers will control landscape resilience over the next century, given a range of plausible climate projections across north-central Minnesota.
Using a simulation modelling approach, we simulated wind disturbance in a 4.3 million ha forested landscape in north-central Minnesota for 100 years under historic climate and five climate change scenarios, combined with four management scenarios: business as usual (BAU), maximizing economic returns (‘EcoGoods’), maximizing carbon storage (‘EcoServices’), and climate change adaption (‘CCAdapt’). To estimate resilience, we examined sites where simulated windstorms removed >70% of the biomass and measured the difference in biomass and species composition after 50 years.
Climate change lowered resilience, though there was wide variation among climate change scenarios. Resilience was explained more by spatial variation in soils than climate. We found that BAU, EcoGoods and EcoServices harvest scenarios were very similar; CCAdapt was the only scenario that demonstrated consistently higher resilience under climate change. Although we expected spatial patterns of resilience to follow ownership patterns, it was contingent upon whether lands were actively managed.
Our results demonstrate that resilience may be lower under climate change and that the effects of climate change could overwhelm current management practices. Only a substantial shift in simulated forest practices was successful in promoting resilience.
Lucash, M.S., Scheller, R.M., J. Gustafson, E. et al. Landscape Ecol (2017). doi:10.1007/s10980-017-0501-3