July 11th, 2013

me meh

Trees might be using less water

Some Trees Use Less Water Amid Rising Carbon Dioxide, Paper Says
[New York Times, might be behind pay wall]

After collating data from 21 different sites, gathered over 20 years, there is an indication that some trees are using less water to achieve a given amount of growth, because there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As one of the persons quoted in the article says, this is the first word, not the last, on this issue.

The article refers to a couple things that I’ve come across recently (not explicitly, but they caught my eye).

First, the “invisible present” and long-term ecological research. This data was gathered over 20 years, and some people are saying that that’s not long enough to verify the trend. This shows why we need long-term research, and why it needs to be funded.

Second, assisted migration. The article refers to trees at the edge of their ranges struggling, but trees (it doesn’t say if they’re the same trees or different species) in the middle of their range doing well. I consider assisted migration an open question, even though I go back and forth on it. Assisted migration will be of limited help, and mostly for large, charismatic species that are more or less on the human scale (ie, visible to the naked eye). But there probably are trees that could be moved, either into new areas entirely or into refugia.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.