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Gypsy moth, Climatic changes, Carbon sequestration -- Environmental aspects, Pine Barrens (N.J.), Forest management


Disturbance regimes within temperate forests can significantly impact carbon cycling. Additionally, projected climate change in combination with multiple, interacting disturbance effects may disrupt the capacity of forests to act as carbon sinks at large spatial and temporal scales. We used a spatially explicit forest succession and disturbance model, LANDIS-II, to model the effects of climate change, gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) defoliation, and wildfire on the C dynamics of the forests of the New Jersey Pine Barrens over the next century. Climate scenarios were simulated using current climate conditions (baseline), as well as a high emissions scenario (HadCM3 A2 emissions scenario). Our results suggest that long-term changes in C cycling will be driven more by climate change than by fire or gypsy moths over the next century. We also found that simulated disturbances will affect species composition more than tree growth or C sequestration rates at the landscape level. Projected changes in tree species biomass indicate a potential increase in oaks with climate change and gypsy moth defoliation over the course of the 100-year simulation, exacerbating current successional trends towards increased oak abundance. Our research suggests that defoliation under climate change may play a critical role in increasing the variability of tree growth rates and in determining landscape species composition over the next 100 years.


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