Manifest Destreeny
August 3, 2017 6:29 AM   Subscribe

American Trees Are Moving West, and No One Knows Why
Climate change explains only 20 percent of the movement.
posted by Etrigan (28 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Surely they're following Horace Treeley's advice.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:43 AM on August 3, 2017 [20 favorites]


The Ents are on the march.
posted by Segundus at 6:46 AM on August 3, 2017 [13 favorites]


Fuck you, Sandyman, you know nothing piece of garbage.
posted by The Gaffer at 6:49 AM on August 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Life is peaceful there, in the open air, where the skies are blue. This is what the trees are gonna do.
posted by jeather at 6:57 AM on August 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


Has anyone seen Johnny Appleseed lately?
posted by chavenet at 7:05 AM on August 3, 2017


Came for the Ents knowing I'd miss, will voice a reminder of a once heard screed that the center of civilization progresses west over the millennia, perhaps a correlation with trees would make for a lovely conspiracy theory?
posted by sammyo at 7:09 AM on August 3, 2017


Are there any prophecies, pertaining to current events or figures, predicated on trees remaining stationary? Just wondering...
posted by acb at 7:09 AM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


west coast is the best coast
posted by entropicamericana at 7:18 AM on August 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Are there any prophecies, pertaining to current events or figures, predicated on trees remaining stationary? Just wondering

Well, let's see, it looks like a very approximate average for these is about 5 miles a year, and it's around 11500 miles to get to Scotland heading west from where I live, so by about 4300 they'll hit Dunsinane.
posted by Copronymus at 7:49 AM on August 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


I think that I shall never grok
These sneaky trees out for a walk.

A tree grown tired of coast-elites
Is spurred to move its rooty feets

And chase the sunset’s dying glow
Toward Hollywood and Idaho.

As ever youngsters, touchy-feely,
Heed the words of Horace Greeley.

But Age will tell Youth: there’s no remedy
Even should they reach Yosemite.

O trees may roam from east to west
But only God can grant us rest.
posted by Joyce Kilmer Rest Area, Imaginary Jersey Turnpike at 7:53 AM on August 3, 2017 [32 favorites]


Huh, mefites are flippant about trees - who knew.
As someone who takes trees seriously (ahem), I find this article fascinating. Thanks for posting!
posted by marlys at 7:56 AM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


Interestingly, a quick look at the map suggests this only seems to be true west of the Appalachians. East of the mountains trees don't seem to be making significant westernly advances. I wonder if that's because the mountains provide a natural barrier to moving further west or other factors.
posted by maryr at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Global climate change is incredibly complex. I'm assuming that trees are revealing some facet of change that humans have not yet discovered. It blows my mind that Americans are still listening to climate change deniers. The realities are startlingly obvious and worrisome, to say the least.
posted by theora55 at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Has anyone considered the spin of the Earth and airbourne seeds??
posted by Burn_IT at 8:04 AM on August 3, 2017


Winds generally cross the US from west to east tho?
posted by maryr at 8:16 AM on August 3, 2017


The Ents are on the march.

Rumors of the Entwives in California.

Huh, mefites are flippant about trees - who knew.

Now, don't be hasty. We are flippant and snarky about pretty much everything and some of us can't resist dropping our geekcred in threads. That being said, this is an interesting story, and I always love the articles about things scientists are seeing happen but don't yet have an explanation for; it fills me with a sense of wonder, even if the likely answer is that "yes, this is another indication that we are fucked as a species, though Mother Nature marches on."
posted by nubs at 8:22 AM on August 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


Really interesting post. Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction devotes an engrossing chapter to tree migration; it's a fantastic book.

There probably never really have been boring times, but I yearn to live in them anyway.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:34 AM on August 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


This, from close to the end:

What concerns the team is that—if deciduous trees are moving westward while conifers move northward—important ecological communities of forests could start to break up in the east. Forests are defined as much by the mix of species, and the interaction between them, as by the simple presence of a lot of trees. If different species migrate in different directions, then communities could start to collapse.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]


This seems like an easy one--Indian burning. Environmental historians have documented how American Indians purposely created and expanded prairies by seasonally setting fires. "Cool burns" in the spring and fall would kill tree seedlings and encourage grasses, which provided food for deer and elk and bison and the like. The Great Plains were expanding east in 1492, aided by the natives. Prairies in the east, even in places like Massachusetts, where created and maintained the same way.

When the disease epidemics tore through native populations in the 1500s, aboriginal burning dropped off and the forests began to reassert themselves. Often this process was interrupted by white farmers, who plowed those prairies and kept the trees back another way.

The rise of industrial agriculture and the depopulation of rural America in the last decades has meant that many marginal fields have been abandoned, and the trees are returning.
posted by LarryC at 9:58 AM on August 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


This seems like an easy one

Not on Metafilter. We can and will over complicate!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:08 AM on August 3, 2017


Trees have been known to leaf one area and then move to another.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:58 AM on August 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


So long, and thanks for all the mulch.
posted by sonascope at 1:48 PM on August 3, 2017


We appear to be entering another banner fire year in the west, so trees moving this way should be warned that they will likely become fuel for larger and larger wildfires.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:03 PM on August 3, 2017


Maybe it's the Coriolis effect. Has anyone checked South America?
posted by ckape at 8:17 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Natural landslides carve themselves rivers of deciduous trees -especially noticeble during the Fall - deciduous forests around British Columbia are opportunistic Johnny-come-Lately's (they grow up fast after a landslide clears a new 'river' in the mountain) but over enough time, conifers viciously out-competes them.

Lots of anthrogenic landclearing may be creating conditions favourable for certain fast growing ruderal East Coast specoes. Maybe the extant Eastern species are just following the trail of anthropomorphic ecoengineering (done in ignorance) from East to West that was the colonization and industrialization of North America.

Interesting phenomenon, but not entirely unexplainable. Sensationalistic headline.
posted by porpoise at 10:11 PM on August 3, 2017


The trees are going west because that's where the jobs are.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:42 PM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's Happening.
posted by quinndexter at 6:10 AM on August 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


I imagine that they heard that David Greig's 2015 play Dunsinane was at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills but it's taking them a while to get there.
posted by likethemagician at 7:26 AM on August 4, 2017


« Older A treasure trove of poor choices   |   Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments