Bad News for Trees: Rocky Mountain Forests Damaged, Maybe Doomed

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 23 February 2018


Bad News for Trees
Rocky Mountain Forests Damaged, Maybe Doomed

Rocky Mountain Spruce and Fir Trees

Drier conditions could doom Rocky Mountain spruce and fir trees,
University of Colorado at Boulder, February 22, 2018.

"Drier summers and a decline in average snowpack over the past 40 years have severely hampered the establishment of two foundational tree species in subalpine regions of Colorado’s Front Range..."

"...spruce and fir tree establishment was limited to a handful of years with above average snowpack and cooler, wetter summer conditions—all of which have grown scarcer in recent decades. The study is believed to be the first to reconstruct establishment frequency on an annual basis for the two conifer species."

"Since 1975, there have been fewer favorable years for seedling establishment.”


"The data show that spruce and fir establishment years became notably less frequent from 1975 onward, a period characterized by declining snowpack, rising summer temperatures and longer periods of low moisture availability during the summer. Only three years out of the past 40 have been conducive to seedling establishment, compared to seven favorable years during the prior 40."

“This study provides more evidence that climate warming is, and has been, significantly and adversely affecting ecological processes in forests of the southern Rockies."

"The findings suggest that seedling establishment in Colorado will continue to decline in the coming years, given future climate predictions."


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Rocky Mountain spruce fir face extinction


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