Climate Change and the Prairie-Forest Border

Multiple environmental factors are affecting the prairie-forest border which crosses the Midwest from northwest to southeast. The earthworm invasion, deer browsing, invasive insect pests such as emerald ash borer and hemlock woolly adelgid, and increasing frequencies of droughts, fires and storms associated with a warmer climate, are all reinforcing the effects that warmer temperatures would have alone. This project provides an opportunity to tie together all of the other projects above for an integrated look at the big picture for the future of forests in the region.

Selected publications 

Danz, N.P., L.E. Frelich, P.B. Reich, and G.J. Niemi. 2013. Abrupt prairie-forest transition across a smooth climate gradient in presettlement Minnesota, USA (PDF). Journal of Vegetation Science 24:1129-1140. [doi: 10.1111/jvs.12028]

Danz, N.P., P.B. Reich, L.E. Frelich, and G.J. Niemi. 2011. Vegetation controls vary across space and spatial scale in a historic grassland-forest biome boundary (PDF). Ecography 34:402-414. [doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06561.x]

Frelich, L.E., and P.B. Reich. 2010. Will environmental changes reinforce the impact of global warming on the prairie-forest border of central North America? (PDF) Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 8:371-378. DOI: 10.1890/080191.

Frelich, L.E., and P.B. Reich. 2009. Wilderness conservation in an era of global warming and invasive species: a case study from Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (PDF). Natural Areas Journal 29:385-393.

Galatowitsch, S., L.E. Frelich, and L. Phillips-Mao. 2009. Regional climate change adaptation strategies for biodiversity conservation in a midcontinental region of North America (PDF). Biological Conservation 142:2012-2022.

Dead birch trees

Dead birch trees, Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. Photo: Dave Hansen, University of Minnesota

Satellite image showing the prairie-forest border

Satellite image showing the prairie-forest border (black line). Modified from DeFries et al. (2000) and published in Frelich and Reich 2010, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.