Predicting climate change impacts to the canadian boreal forest

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-157
Number of pages25
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity, boreal
  • Climate change
  • DHI
  • FPAR
  • Space-time analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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