Global climate-change models (GCMs) predict that the midwest USA will be drier and warmer as a result of global climate change. Other studies suggest that climate change has already started in the Lake Michigan region. This study uses climate predictions from GCMs and projections of historical climate-change trends to examine the potential effects of climate change on riparian vegetation along the Pere Marquette River in west central Michigan. A model of stream discharge as a function of temperature and precipitation was used to estimate the percent of time that each of 25 plots would be inundated at a field site in the riparian corridor on the river. Four vegetation classes were identified at the field site (Alnus, Open-Viburnum, Fraxinus-Carpinus, and Acer-Tsuga). The stream discharge model was used to calculate the percent of time each plot was inundated at the field site under the different climate scenarios and to predict the distribution of vegetation classes that would be present under climate-change conditions. The results suggest that the areal extent of vegetation classes at the field site may change by up to 27%.
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Vol. 20 • No. 3