Is increased precipitation during the 20th century statistically or ecologically significant in the eastern US?

Brice B. Hanberry, Marc David Abrams, Joseph D. White

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We address the climate versus disturbance debate to understand drivers of change in human-environment systems. We examine whether recent increased precipitation episodes (‘pluvials’) are unique and have ecological implications for the humid climate of the eastern United States. Robust statistical analyzes presented here indicate that the 20th century was wet, but not significantly different than other centuries during the last millennium. Statistical methods did not establish increased precipitation episodes as an unusual change that correlated with transition shifts in eastern forests during the early 20th century. Additionally, modest precipitation change was not ecologically significant enough to result in forests composed of drought-tolerant trees in the past or drought-intolerant trees currently. We conclude that fire is a parsimonious explanation for composition and structure of historical open fire-tolerant oak and pine forests. Fire exclusion was unprecedented during early 20th century and loss of this driver provides a mechanism for forest transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-268
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Land Use Science
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2018

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drought
driver
climate
statistical method
exclusion
disturbance
loss
method
oak

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Cite this

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abstract = "We address the climate versus disturbance debate to understand drivers of change in human-environment systems. We examine whether recent increased precipitation episodes (‘pluvials’) are unique and have ecological implications for the humid climate of the eastern United States. Robust statistical analyzes presented here indicate that the 20th century was wet, but not significantly different than other centuries during the last millennium. Statistical methods did not establish increased precipitation episodes as an unusual change that correlated with transition shifts in eastern forests during the early 20th century. Additionally, modest precipitation change was not ecologically significant enough to result in forests composed of drought-tolerant trees in the past or drought-intolerant trees currently. We conclude that fire is a parsimonious explanation for composition and structure of historical open fire-tolerant oak and pine forests. Fire exclusion was unprecedented during early 20th century and loss of this driver provides a mechanism for forest transitions.",
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Is increased precipitation during the 20th century statistically or ecologically significant in the eastern US? / Hanberry, Brice B.; Abrams, Marc David; White, Joseph D.

In: Journal of Land Use Science, Vol. 13, No. 3, 04.05.2018, p. 259-268.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

TY - JOUR

T1 - Is increased precipitation during the 20th century statistically or ecologically significant in the eastern US?

AU - Hanberry, Brice B.

AU - Abrams, Marc David

AU - White, Joseph D.

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N2 - We address the climate versus disturbance debate to understand drivers of change in human-environment systems. We examine whether recent increased precipitation episodes (‘pluvials’) are unique and have ecological implications for the humid climate of the eastern United States. Robust statistical analyzes presented here indicate that the 20th century was wet, but not significantly different than other centuries during the last millennium. Statistical methods did not establish increased precipitation episodes as an unusual change that correlated with transition shifts in eastern forests during the early 20th century. Additionally, modest precipitation change was not ecologically significant enough to result in forests composed of drought-tolerant trees in the past or drought-intolerant trees currently. We conclude that fire is a parsimonious explanation for composition and structure of historical open fire-tolerant oak and pine forests. Fire exclusion was unprecedented during early 20th century and loss of this driver provides a mechanism for forest transitions.

AB - We address the climate versus disturbance debate to understand drivers of change in human-environment systems. We examine whether recent increased precipitation episodes (‘pluvials’) are unique and have ecological implications for the humid climate of the eastern United States. Robust statistical analyzes presented here indicate that the 20th century was wet, but not significantly different than other centuries during the last millennium. Statistical methods did not establish increased precipitation episodes as an unusual change that correlated with transition shifts in eastern forests during the early 20th century. Additionally, modest precipitation change was not ecologically significant enough to result in forests composed of drought-tolerant trees in the past or drought-intolerant trees currently. We conclude that fire is a parsimonious explanation for composition and structure of historical open fire-tolerant oak and pine forests. Fire exclusion was unprecedented during early 20th century and loss of this driver provides a mechanism for forest transitions.

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