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Hik, David S.

Pattern and extent of treeline change using sequential vertical aerial photography in the northern section of the Kluane Ranges of southwest Yukon are examined. One of the most common predictions is that continued global temperature increases will cause the tree-line to advance in elevation and latitude. Comparison of aerial photographs of southwest Yukon indicates significant changes in the spruce forest-shrub tundra transition. Many areas exhibit increased growth of individual spruce without an increase in stand density or an advance in spruce distribution. Increase in the elevational distribution of spruce is observed in comparatively fewer areas, typically in combination with other two types of change.
The boreal forests of North America are undergoing major changes because of the direct effects of global warming and increased CO sub(2) levels. Plant production in the boreal forest is nutrient limited, and we examined how long-term fertilization affected growth of white spruce Picea glauca in the face of these major changes. We conducted a large-scale experiment by fertilizing two 1 km super(2) stands of white spruce in the southwestern Yukon with commercial NPK fertilizer from 1987 to 1994. Tree growth was measured by the width of annual increments in 60 trees from each of 2 control and of 2 matched fertilized 1 km super(2) sites for the period from 1977 to 1997 in a before, during, and after experimental design....
From 2001 to 2004 we experimentally warmed 40 large, naturally established, white spruce [Picea glauca (Moench) Voss] seedlings at alpine treeline in southwest Yukon, Canada, using passive open-top chambers (OTCs) distributed equally between opposing north and south-facing slopes. Our goal was to test the hypothesis that an increase in temperature consistent with global climate warming would elicit a positive growth response. OTCs increased growing season air temperatures by 1.8°C and annual growing degree-days by one-third. In response, warmed seedlings grew significantly taller and had higher photosynthetic rates compared with control seedlings. On the south aspect, soil temperatures averaged 1.0°C warmer and...
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