University of Minnesota
Studying Climate Change Stress Factors in Minnesota Ecosystems
Minnesota, the home base for the Olseth Family Foundation has a natural environment that is unique in North America. The state’s ecosystems are comprised of boreal forest (northern conifer), temperate forest (maple and oak) and prairie, all three are vulnerable to a changing climate. As we begin a new decade, we are excited to champion the University of Minnesota’s Center for Forest Ecology, as both scientists and students study whether stress factors such as non-native earthworms, buckthorn and land conversion reinforce the effects of climate change on forests.
Research components will include:
- Future scenarios including low and high magnitudes of climate change, illustrating the alternative futures of Minnesota forests depending upon society’s collective decisions with regard to emissions of greenhouse gases. Included will be locations to which a given forest type could move for low and high future warming scenarios.
- Locating refugia, places where forests would persist in a warming climate. (e.g. north facing slopes, areas where cold air settles and lakeshores).
- Losses of biodiversity, particularly plant species due to climate change. An emphasis will be given to Minnesota’s Big Woods (temperate maple and oak forests in southern Minnesota), which occupy only a few percent of their former area due to decades of land conversion.
To learn more about the effects of climate change on Minnesota’s ecosystems, please read the following reports (pdf format).