Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

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#1)  Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby samson'sseed » Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:51 am

I recently wrote an article on my blog about sourwood trees.  I was looking for studies that found sourwood pollen in Pleistocene-aged pollen profiles.  I didn't find any, but I did come across a scientific paper that listed 19 species of eastern trees whose northern range limits match the former extent of the Laurentide Glacier.

Contrary to what many paleoecologists think, the forest that existed immediately south of the Ice Age ice sheet probably was not a pure boreal forest but included these 19 species commonly found in the southern Appalachians.  I wrote about this paper on my blog.

Here's a link to my article.
https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2017/ ... ce-margin/

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#2)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby Erik Danielsen » Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:03 am

Very interesting. I've seen it asserted that Cucumber Magnolia conforms to this pattern as well, though its range as observable the great lakes region has expanded reasonably northward. A couple of the coastal species have as well, Post Oak and Blackjack Oak having native populations in favorable sandy parts of Staten Island, Long Island, and apparently Massachusetts. Wikipedia's range map for Willow Oak seems incomplete, as the native population on Staten Island is well documented back to the earliest periods of botanical observation here, and some Southern Red Oak genetics are present as well in the unusual hybrid oak populations though seemingly no pure specimens exist.

I'm grateful to your blog for having introduced me to the prehistoric existence of Critchfield's Spruce. I like to imagine sometimes what the forests it dominated might have been like...

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#3)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby AndrewJoslin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:00 pm

Thanks for the excellent and interesting blog posting. You've motivated me to learn more about Massachusetts/New England geology. To Erik's comment, yes there is a narrow finger of Cucumber Magnolia range extending up into eastern Massachusetts, as discussed in another thread we'll be remeasuring one in Northboro on Sunday. So confusing when I first looked at the tree, a forest grown Cucumber Magnolia looks much different than introduced trees of the species found in older estates and parks in eastern Massachusetts. Certainly the relationship of tree species to underlying geology and geologic history is a deep and fruitful topic!
-AJ
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#4)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby Joe » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:38 pm

Andrew, are you familiar with Roadside Geology of Massachusetts by James W. Skehan, who was, I believe the state geologist? I think I ordered it on Amazon. It's very good. I've been reading about the geology of the state for decades and have many of the topo scale bedrock maps, and other more detailed publications.
Joe

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#5)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby Joe » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:43 pm

samson'sseed wrote:I recently wrote an article on my blog about sourwood trees.  I was looking for studies that found sourwood pollen in Pleistocene-aged pollen profiles.  I didn't find any, but I did come across a scientific paper that listed 19 species of eastern trees whose northern range limits match the former extent of the Laurentide Glacier.

Contrary to what many paleoecologists think, the forest that existed immediately south of the Ice Age ice sheet probably was not a pure boreal forest but included these 19 species commonly found in the southern Appalachians.  I wrote about this paper on my blog.

Here's a link to my article.
https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2017/ ... ce-margin/


It says, "19 species of trees never advanced and remain locked in the same ranges within which they probably occurred during the Ice Age". I don't get it. I wonder why none of those species advanced? Why wouldn't they if they had been further north pre ice age?
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#6)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby Don » Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:47 pm

Joe-
Good question...could it be that the very soil source that sustained "the 19 species" was removed by the glaciation?
-Don
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#7)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby AndrewJoslin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:38 pm

Joe wrote:Andrew, are you familiar with Roadside Geology of Massachusetts by James W. Skehan, who was, I believe the state geologist? I think I ordered it on Amazon. It's very good. I've been reading about the geology of the state for decades and have many of the topo scale bedrock maps, and other more detailed publications.
Joe


I'm deficient in my understanding of local geology beyond a basic understanding of different rock types etc. and knowing western Mass. is completely different than eastern Mass. ;-) I'll look for the book, thanks for the heads up.
-AJ
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#8)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby AndrewJoslin » Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:42 pm

Don wrote:Joe-
Good question...could it be that the very soil source that sustained "the 19 species" was removed by the glaciation?
-Don


To continue on that train of thought... the species that did move back in may have been more tolerant of whatever surface material was there, or moved north more effectively (blue jay caching behavior moving acorns north) and/or the species that did move back into the glaciated zone were more cold tolerant than the 19 species. Or all of it ;-)
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#9)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby Lucas » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:59 pm

I saw the OP and spread it around some.

I have not read the original paper, yet.

It is an obvious pattern but what does it mean? I find it incredible that jays (maybe passenger pigeons) that spread oak seed far and wide would still produce the  restricted pattern seen. These trees will grow outside their range when planted so there has to be more to this.

Also, I find it incredible that south of the ice was a mix of species that do not mix now. I am not an expert but I would guess ice covering half a continent would extend some pretty nasty weather all over the continent. It amazes be that so many species we have today were able to handle the enormous stresses of glaciation.

A good post that raises some questions.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#10)  Re: Tree species range limits match former Ice Sheet Margin

Postby MarkGraham » Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:44 pm

This is an interesting association.   It could be the conditions that permitted the extension of the ice shield to a certain point are also the conditions that prohibit the extension of some tree species ranges beyond a certain point.

Maybe the 20 or so species noted require a certain amount of annual solar energy that is not met north of a certain latitude.   Then the same ice shields were not able to expand beyond a similar point due to solar energy melting whatever had accumulated during the long winters.

Even if temperatures increase, I think many species are more dependent on annual energy provided by sunlight versus the ambient air temperature.   During the growing season temperature is not a direct ingredient in photosynthesis, but sunlight is.
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