Climate change impacts on tree ranges: model intercomparison facilitates understanding and quantification of uncertainty

Ecol Lett. 2012 Jun;15(6):533-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01764.x. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


Model-based projections of shifts in tree species range due to climate change are becoming an important decision support tool for forest management. However, poorly evaluated sources of uncertainty require more scrutiny before relying heavily on models for decision-making. We evaluated uncertainty arising from differences in model formulations of tree response to climate change based on a rigorous intercomparison of projections of tree distributions in France. We compared eight models ranging from niche-based to process-based models. On average, models project large range contractions of temperate tree species in lowlands due to climate change. There was substantial disagreement between models for temperate broadleaf deciduous tree species, but differences in the capacity of models to account for rising CO(2) impacts explained much of the disagreement. There was good quantitative agreement among models concerning the range contractions for Scots pine. For the dominant Mediterranean tree species, Holm oak, all models foresee substantial range expansion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Environment
  • Fagus
  • France
  • Geography*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pinus
  • Quercus
  • Trees*
  • Uncertainty