Predicting Changes In Great Basin Forest Community Stability Under Drought And Ongoing Climate Change

aspen grove in tahoe

Long-term and frequent drought has plagued the West over the last few decades, having particularly damaging effects on already arid systems of the Great Basin region. Impacts of drought on natural and human systems include widespread tree mortality, depleted water supplies and reserves, loss of species and biodiversity, and declining goods and services provided to communities. Projected declines in water availability due to increases in the frequency and duration of drought are likely to further impact these systems, leading to ongoing tree mortality and loss of critical Great Basin species. These losses will then have cascading effects on ecosystem functioning, including turning forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources as trees are lost from the landscape and providing a positive feedback to climate change.

The goal of this project is to quantify forest response to ongoing climate change and identify at-risk species, ecosystems, and services in Great Basin forests to support management and conservation prioritization and efforts under the predictions of future climate stress.