Predicting Climate Change Impacts to the Canadian Boreal Forest




Nelson, Trisalyn A.
Coops, Nicholas C.
Wulder, Michael A.
Perez, Liliana
Fitterer, Jessica
Powers, Ryan
Fontana, Fabio

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Climate change is expected to alter temperature, precipitation, and seasonality with potentially acute impacts on Canada’s boreal. In this research we predicted future spatial distributions of biodiversity in Canada’s boreal for 2020, 2050, and 2080 using indirect indicators derived from remote sensing and based on vegetation productivity. Vegetation productivity indices, representing annual amounts and variability of greenness, have been shown to relate to tree and wildlife richness in Canada’s boreal. Relationships between historical satellite-derived productivity and climate data were applied to modelled scenarios of future climate to predict and map potential future vegetation productivity for 592 regions across Canada. Results indicated that the pattern of vegetation productivity will become more homogenous, particularly west of Hudson Bay. We expect climate change to impact biodiversity along north/south gradients and by 2080 vegetation distributions will be dominated by processes of seasonality in the north and a combination of cumulative greenness and minimum cover in the south. The Hudson Plains, which host the world’s largest and most contiguous wetland, are predicted to experience less seasonality and more greenness. The spatial distribution of predicted trends in vegetation productivity was emphasized over absolute values, in order to support regional biodiversity assessments and conservation planning.



climate change, biodiversity, boreal, space-time analysis, fPAR, DHI


Nelson, T. A., Coops, N. C., Wulder, M. A., Perez, L., Fitterer, J., Powers, R., & Fontana, F. (2014). Predicting Climate Change Impacts to the Canadian Boreal Forest. Diversity, 6(1), 133-157.