Tree migration detection through comparisons of historic and current forest inventoriesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Changes in tree species distributions are a potential impact of climate change on forest ecosystems. The examination of tree species shifts in forests of the eastern United States largely has been limited to modeling activities with little empirical analysis of long-term forest inventory datasets. The goal of this study was to compare historic and current spatial distributions of tree species for sets of northern and southern tree species in the eastern United States using regionwide forest inventories. Based on the results of this study, no conclusions could be drawn about tree migration in the eastern United States. The technique of comparing outer ranges of tree species based on periodic forest inventories may be confounded by inconsistent forest inventory methods across time and space along with tree species identification measurement error. It is suggested that novel tree migration detection methods be developed based on contemporary forest inventories that are consistent across space and time.