Conservation Minnesota

Effects on Minnesota

Some maples may flourish while others may disappear due to climate change in Minnesota.

Minnesota Climate

Climate change has already shown some noticeable changes in Minnesota, including the precious Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Boreal forests, such as those in Minnesota, have begun to show signs of shifting to savanna and/or temperate forest and appear to show further effects over the next century. Some of those changes may be aesthetically pleasing, but others may prove fatal to some species in the area. Invasive species of worms, insects, and pests may grow without the mitigation of colder temperatures and magnify the impacts of the warmer temps. Deer overpopulation may also reduce species’ abilities to repopulate. Conservationists will have to decide how to manage these effects, and they face some serious decisions about maintaining the native species, such as protecting ash trees from the dreaded ash borer. Scientists believe that major change in forests such as the BWCAW is a certainty and facilitation of a ‘graceful transition’ to native species rather than exotic species is desirable.

Source: Wilderness Conservation in an Era of Global Warming and Invasive Species: a Case Study from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Lee E. Frelich, Peter B. Reich, University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources

Weather changes.

Ecologists and scientists know this, and they have established a general range of conditions, known as the historical range of natural variability (RNV). The typical RNV for Minnesota, however, is changing dramatically now due to climate change, and typical strategies for restoring lands or conserving resources may now be obsolete.

For example, ensuring that forests in northeastern Minnesota contain a diverse selection of trees will be difficult if not cost-prohibitive. The changes in those forests from climate change to one dominated by maples may be the most obvious while maples may disappear altogether farther south in the state. Hikers could also see the disappearance of White spruce, balsam fir, and paper birch with additional losses of black spruce, red pine, and jack pine if projections of high global warming pollution are realized.

Source: Forest restoration in a mixed-ownership landscape under climate change, March 2010, Catherine Ravenscroft, Robert M. Scheller, David J. Mladenoff, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin And Mark A. White, The Nature Conservancy.

More about climate.