Global Change: Exotic Riparian Trees

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Russian Olive trees invade a riparian ecology
Russian Olive trees invade a riparian ecology

Shifts in river flows are a central impact of climate change. These shifts affect water supply, flood hazards and alter the abundance of many native and invasive species of trees. The effects of human-induced climate change on river flow cannot be understood, however, unless these effects can be distinguished from those of natural climate variation and water management.

FORT researchers are studying tree rings of riparian cottonwoods in the Great Plains to reconstruct past environmental variation and to predict effects of future climate change. For example, along the Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, we are using tree rings to reconstruct the last 300 years of flow and climate variation and to predict the potential effects of climate change on future tree growth and establishment.