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Article

Changing Climatic Averages and Variance: Implications for Mesophication at the Eastern Edge of North America’s Eastern Deciduous Forest

by 1,* and 2,3
1
Institute of Water Security and Science, West Virginia University, 3107 Agricultural Sciences Building, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
2
Institute of Water Security and Science, West Virginia University, 4121 Agricultural Sciences Building, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
3
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(10), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100605
Received: 26 August 2018 / Revised: 24 September 2018 / Accepted: 27 September 2018 / Published: 29 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
Observed conversion of xerophytic warm genera species to mesophytic cool genera species in North America’s Eastern Deciduous Forest (EDF) suggests species composition is in disequilibrium with recent climatic warming. However, increasing annual average temperatures is an oversimplification of long-term climatic change and the importance of climate variance is often neglected. Seven-year moving averages and standard deviations of annually averaged maximum temperatures, minimum temperatures, daily precipitation, and vapor pressure deficits (VPD) in West Virginia, USA were quantified over a 111-year period of record (1906–2016). Maximum temperatures decreased significantly (−5.3%; p < 0.001), minimum temperatures increased significantly (7.7%; p < 0.001), and precipitation increased (2.2%; p = 0.107). Additionally, maximum temperature variance decreased (−17.4%; p = 0.109), minimum temperature variance decreased significantly (−22.6%; p = 0.042), and precipitation variance increased significantly (26.6%; p = 0.004). Results indicate a reduced diurnal temperature range and significant reductions in estimated VPD (10.3%; p < 0.001) that imply increased relative humidity, cloud cover, and soil moisture that may support increasingly abundant mesophytic cool genera species. Feedback mechanisms associated with extensive changes in land use, fire suppression, and browser population may have exacerbated climatic changes. Long-term assessments of changing climatic averages and variance are needed to ensure sustainability of forest ecosystem services, health, and productivity in a swiftly changing climate across the broader EDF region and similar temperate forest ecosystems globally. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; climate variance; vegetation change; forest disturbance; temperate forests; eastern deciduous forest climate change; climate variance; vegetation change; forest disturbance; temperate forests; eastern deciduous forest
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kutta, E.; Hubbart, J.A. Changing Climatic Averages and Variance: Implications for Mesophication at the Eastern Edge of North America’s Eastern Deciduous Forest. Forests 2018, 9, 605. https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100605

AMA Style

Kutta E, Hubbart JA. Changing Climatic Averages and Variance: Implications for Mesophication at the Eastern Edge of North America’s Eastern Deciduous Forest. Forests. 2018; 9(10):605. https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100605

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kutta, Evan, and Jason A. Hubbart 2018. "Changing Climatic Averages and Variance: Implications for Mesophication at the Eastern Edge of North America’s Eastern Deciduous Forest" Forests 9, no. 10: 605. https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100605

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