Are PA Forests in Store for Extreme Makeover?

Posted by erauch, May 17, 2011

A new landscape is taking shape in Pennsylvania. According to a prominent wildlife biologist, it could cause a clash between native species of plants and wildlife and some from farther south looking to branch out.

Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, says climate change is the reason.

“The projections are that the average temperature in Pennsylvania, within the life span of a child born today – that is, by the end of the century – could be seven degrees Farenheit warmer on average, thanks to climate change.”

Inkley says insects making a move north are a problem. One is the Argentinian red fire ant, which can grow huge colonies, he explains.

“Other invasive species in the position to potentially cause problems for Pennsylvania include the wooly adelgid aphid, which causes problems for hemlock trees.”

Short of stopping climate change in its tracks, the state will need to make some preparations, Inkley warns.

“The droughts will be stronger; the storms will be stronger. We have to plan our infrastructure – our drainage and everything else – to deal with that, so we are prepared.”

Warmer temperatures are likely to attract invasive species, common in states to the south, that could have detrimental effects on a number of native tree species in Pennsylvania, such as the sugar maple, sweet birch and eastern pine, he adds.