Southerly plants pushed north after wildfires

Photo credit: Nature World News

Forests that have been thinned before forest fires in California are able to maintain more forest biodiversity of plants. (Photo : Wikipedia Commons)

Wildfires and Climate Change: Southerly Plants Pushed North

By Catherine Arnold

The southwest is moving northward, pushed there by California wildfires, as researchers from University of California, Davis recently reported in the Journal of Ecology.

That is, as fires burn forest understories, the plants that grow in their place are increasingly those normally found in more southern parts of the West. “The plants we’re finding underneath our forests are becoming more like those seen in Mexico and Southern California,” said lead author Jens Stevens, a postdoctoral scholar with UC Davis, in a release. “Under climate change, we’re seeing species from drier, warmer areas increasingly taking over. It’s a long process, but forest disturbance, be it thinning or wildfire, has the potential to hasten those shifts.”

This can be a startling change: A forest floor normally strewn with lupine and violets, typical of Northern California and Canada–may now be manzanita and monkey flower, or other foliage normally found to the south, a release noted.

Read the full story: Nature World News

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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