deBuys on the climatology of the New West

I don’t think we’ll recognize this:

One upshot will be the emergence of whole new ecologies. The landscape changes brought on by climate change are affecting areas so vast that many previous tenants of the land—ponderosa pines, for instance—cannot be expected to recolonize their former territory. Their seeds don’t normally spread far from the parent tree, and their seedlings require conditions that big, hot, open spaces don’t provide.

What will develop in their absence? What will the mountains and mesa tops of the New West look like? Already it is plain to see that scrub oak, locust, and other plants that reproduce by root suckers are prospering in places where the big pines used to stand. These plants can be burned to the ground and yet resprout vigorously a season later. One ecologist friend offers this advice, “If you have to be reincarnated as a plant in the West, try not to come back as a tree. Choose a clonal shrub, instead. The future looks good for them.”


One Comment

  1. The lack of an overstory canopy has many implications. Wind friction, for instance, may be less. Bird diversity, then insect numbers will change. Carbon cycling and other nutrient cycling…It will also be interesting to see where the refugia will be, and whether we can protect them. Will we be able to save them when our numbers are drastically less, or will we have to exploit them for resources?



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