Biology Dept. offers Friday talk by Roman Dial on changing vegetation on the Kenai Peninsula

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Friday, Oct. 2, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building (CPISB), Room 120

The Kenai Peninsula offers an excellent opportunity to observe vegetation change in a boreal, non-permafrost region during the last half century that appears to follow climate change rather than land-use change.

Climate records from the city of Kenai show an overall drying and warming trend since the 1950s. Historic aerial photography on the eastern Kenai Peninsula documents changes in vegetation during this time period, changes that suggest an accelerating drying of wetlands, a widespread increase in willow and alder cover and a rising tree-line. Fieldwork has shown invasion of wetlands by more upland plants, including trees, and recruitment of trees into the alpine zone that parallels the timing of warming. Peat cores suggest that the invasion by trees into the wetlands may be unprecedented since the last glaciation.

Taken together, the evidence is very suggestive that the changes in vegetation cover are due to a changing climate. The consequences of these changes for greenhouse gas flux, as well as bird and other wildlife abundance have not yet been determined.

Roman Dial is a professor of biology and mathematics at Alaska Pacific University. Parking is free on the UAA campus every Friday. Refreshments will be provided.

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