Tree species and climate change

maple leaf on clover

Forests may look very different in the future as a result of climate change. Many of the northern tree species that provide economic and cultural benefits are adapted to cold climates and will be under greater stress as the climate warms and conditions become less favorable. Other species may be able to take advantage of new conditions and expand northward over time. The USDA Northern Forest Climate Hub and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science collaborate with scientists to understand how individual tree species may respond to climate change.

Summarized lists of climate adapted and maladapted tree species

Find summarized lists of projected tree species habitat suitability for a specific region, state or city in the Midwest or Northeast regions. The prepared lists are synthesized from peer-reviewed publications, reports and tools at the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science's Climate Change Response Framework.

Browse lists (external link)


Investigate the issue at different scales using the USFS Climate Change Atlas tool.

The Climate Change Atlas documents the current and possible future distribution of 134 tree species and 147 bird species in the Eastern United States and gives detailed information on environmental characteristics defining these distributions. Climate Change Atlas tool and website (external link)
For advanced users current and potential future habitat, capability, and migration can be assess at a landscape level, or customize data at the watershed level, or for a specific latitude and longitude. Queries can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet or Pdf.

Combined species outputs at the Climate Change Atlas (external link)


Comprehensive Vulnerability Assessments

Consider learning more on how forests are vulnerable to climate change. Find a short list of highlights, and links to comprehensive regional vulnerability reports written for ecoregions in the Midwest and Northeast regions.

Learn more about climate impacts