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Study Finds Climate Change Alters West Coast rees


Every two weeks for over 13 years, students at UCSC checked nets set up around a 40-acre forest. They painstakingly counted trapped seeds and measured every nearby tree. Now, the data is helping scientists understand some of the subtler effects of climate change.

A new study combined the students’ work with data from 48 institutions across North America to reveal a concerning trend: climate change limits the seed production of large trees in West Coast forests. Branching out for data

The Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP) acts as an outdoor laboratory, providing a place to study forests over the long term.

“The really special thing about the FERP is that it’s entirely student-powered,” says Greg Gilbert, the founding director and a professor of environmental studies at UCSC. Over the years, hundreds of students helped collect the data that went into the project.

Scientists say long-term, collaborative studies like this one are necessary for understanding the regional effects of climate change. “I think this is a growing trend,” says Kai Zhu, an assistant professor of environmental studies at UCSC and a co-author of the study.

Lots of global predictions come from computer models and satellite imagery. But Zhu says predicting changes in ecology “is […]

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