Climatic Drivers of Yellow-Cedar Decline
Dr. Lori Daniels
Dr. Amanda Stan
Tom Maertens, PhD Candidate
Yellow-cedar is a valuable resource and a pivotal part of the ecosystem in the coastal forests of BC where over 45,000 ha of dead and declining trees have recently been documented. The wide-ranging stands of concentrated yellow-cedar mortality in Alaska and British Columbia are one of the most severe forest declines in western North America. Changes in regional climate are thought to be driving the progressive mortality of this species due to diminishing snowpacks which increase the severity of late-winter freeze events.
To investigate the causes and effects of this decline, we plan to characterize the structure and dynamics of 12 declining stands along the north and central coast of BC. Dendroecological (tree-ring) stand reconstructions will allow us to assess tree- and population-level responses in relation to variations in climate.
This widespread disturbance represents an important opportunity to study causes of climatic-driven forest decline. Results from this study will inform resource planning and conservation efforts in BC by facilitating management at the stand-scale and projections of tree growth and timber loss over annual and decadal scales. As a study of a forest in non-equilibrium with its climate, outcomes of this research will become increasingly relevant as forest ecosystems in BC and around the world respond to changing environmental conditions.