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America's Trees Are Trying To Outrun Threats By Heading North And West

Climate change, blight, pests, wildfires and human land usage could all contribute to forests' movement.
America's Trees Are Trying To Outrun Threats By Heading North And West

America's trees are undertaking a slow migration.

Researchers writing in the journal Science Advances looked at tree population surveys starting in the 1980s. What they found is that the trees in eastern America are moving north and west. 

Specifically, conifer trees like pines are moving north, and deciduous trees like maples and elms are moving west. 

Don't worry; the forest isn't full of Ents. Instead, successive generations of trees are sprouting farther west or north while older trees back east die off.

The researchers say at least 20 percent of the population shift is due to climate change. The rest can be attributed to other environmental changes like wildfires, land use and new pests or blights.

While tree migration doesn't sound like a huge deal, there is cause for concern: If the populations continue to shift, whole ecosystems could be pulled apart and begin to collapse.