BY SHARON OOSTHOEK, MARCH 14, 2013
White spruce grow across northern North America, from Alaska to Labrador. As Arctic temperatures rise, spruce are spreading even farther north.
Even if trees cannot walk, they are still on the move.
In parts of the Arctic, entire forests are creeping northward. Luckily, ecologist Serge Payette is hot on their trail. Like the two other scientists we will meet here, Payette has spent decades trying to understand the often surprising ways plants influence their environment.
Together, these three experts are showing how plants don’t just colonize new surroundings, but also can warm and clean them. Some plants can even rid an area of any competing plants, using chemicals that continue to marvel scientists. As work by these scientists shows, plants do many things to interact with their environment — and ours.
Move on up
Across the Arctic, temperatures are rising faster than anywhere else in the world. As that happens, the tree line that marks where forests stop and the treeless tundra starts has been shifting northward. Payette is an Arctic plant ecologist who works at Université Laval in Québec, Canada. And he’s been studying how trees respond to this climate change in northern Canada. Read more …