New study suggests that ancient trees possess far more than an awe-inspiring presence. They sustain the entire population of trees’ ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
The study has been published in Nature Plants. The Morton Arboretum’s Centre for Tree Science in Lisle, Tuscia University in Italy and University of Barcelona in Spain scientists have reported that old and ancient trees radically change the overall genetic diversity. It also changes the composition fitness of their surrounding populations. The research indicates that these trees contribute evolutionary properties to forests that are vital to their long-term survival.
Scientists reported the death of ancient trees is more a random product of their environment rather than a predictable process. These trees comprise less than 1% of a population. This contributes an important amount of genetic and biological diversity to a forest’s overall population. It represents a broad range of historical environmental conditions that span hundreds of years.
Scientists said, ancient trees have survived countless environmental changes over hundreds or thousands of years. This genetic resilience is passed on to the forest. Old trees provide invaluable services to their ecosystem. It provides a habitat for endangered species and sequester a disproportionate amount of carbon compared to typical mature trees.
Impossible to cultivate
Old-growth forests around the world are under threat. Study says deforestation of natural forests is continuing around the world. There is evidence that the overall mortality rate of trees may be increasing globally from the boreal biome to the tropics.
Scientists found in their models that the maximum age that trees could reach was particularly sensitive to the lower range of observed mortality rates. At higher mortality rates, these might be seen as resulting from climate changes. The ability of trees to reach the same impressive ages is very limited.
Scientists noted forest restoration and tree planting efforts are important tools to improve both local and global environments. Ancient trees cannot be recovered without many centuries of trees passing. They are an emergent property of old-growth forests. These are impossible to recreate in newly regenerating forests.