Climate, Trees, and Legacy

Educational VIDEO series to explore the prospects of human-assisted migration
("assisted colonization") of America's forest trees in this time of rapid climate change


  • If you have time for only one video, choose pt 5 if you live in western USA and pt 6 for the east.
  • Academics, historians, and professional conservationists and resource managers, see pt. 8.

       Pt. 1: INTRODUCTION

    This is a learning and action series for helping trees adapt to climate change — species by species, decade by decade. "Assisted migration" in a time of unprecedented climate shift will be increasingly necessary in the decades ahead. Foresters can create the maps to show us where species will need to move to. But we citizen naturalists will play a complementary role in ensuring that the full diversity of genotypes keeps pace with a warming and drying continent.

    43 minutes - published January 4, 2014.    WATCH


    The focal tree for episode 2 is America's rarest pine tree: the Torrey Pine of the foggy coast of southern California. Lessons learned: (1) In this case, size of habitat doesn't matter; San Diegoans are planting and watering it on lawns and street-sides. (2) Experience does matter; though reading scientific papers is crucial, so is ground truthing. The venerable tradition of nature study and the kinds of simple outdoor experiments that Darwin excelled in will become increasingly important as plant zones head north faster than tree species can follow.

    53 minutes - published March 18, 2014.    WATCH


    The focal tree for episode 2 is Joshua Tree of the Mojave Desert. Lessons discerned:
    (1) Experiment with assisted migration to learn the actual northern range limits of Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) in today's climate.
    (2) People get possessive about their trees.
    (3) Value biodiversity over "native range".
         The March 2014 AAAS climate report, "What We Know", is highlighted, along with the 2014 Working Group II report of the IPCC: "Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability."

    66 minutes - published April 11, 2014.    WATCH


    The focal tree for episode 4 is Smooth Arizona Cypress.
    Lessons discerned:
    (1) The landscaping business can do no-cost assisted migration. (2) Species with disjunct populations have special needs. (3) Taxonomic "Lumpers" v. "Splitters" affect conservation views. (4) Big difference bt. natural v. human rates of climate change.

    53 minutes - published June 13, 2014.    WATCH


    Ten conifers in Colorado are the focal trees of episode 5.
    Lessons discerned:
    (1) Worldview shifts can happen quickly
    (2) Climate change becomes real locally
    (3) Opportunities to act are crucial
    (4) Climate effects on old-growth and wilderness forests will be heartbreaking.

    61 minutes - published July 5, 2014.    WATCH


    Includes footage of a 2014 pilgrimage Connie made to the Smithsonian exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of the last Passenger Pigeon.
    Lessons discerned:
    (1) We need to distinguish among 3 forms of assisted migration:
        Assisted population migration
        Assisted range expansion
        Assisted species migration
    (2) The Passenger Pigeon, once a major seed disperser, is extinct
    (3) We therefore need to "Become Passenger Pigeon"
        48 minutes - published November 8, 2014.    WATCH


    Part 1 of 2 (pt 2 will be completed late 2015 or 2016)

    Background for an actual range expansion test planting from a dwindling population of Alligator Juniper near Albuquerque NM (6,800 ft elevation) to a private open forested site in s. Colorado (8,300 ft elevation).

    35 minutes - published March 22, 2015.    WATCH

       Pt. 7B: Alligator Juniper (Collecting Seeds)

    Video captures site visits to 5 locales of mature Alligator Juniper in Arizona and New Mexico.

    66 minutes - published February 24, 2016.    WATCH

       Pt. 7D: Assisted Migration Mythic Interlude

    Connie's role as narrator is silent, as she prepares for an assisted migration field experience by sorting seeds and watching a 1987 video of the key mythic story (by Jean Giono) that motivates her action: "The Man Who Planted Trees".

    14 minutes - published 10 August, 2016.    WATCH

       Pt. 7E: Assisted Migration Coyote Style (Alligator Juniper)

    First episode in a series filmed at Edward Sargent Wildlife Management Area (Chama, NM). Coyote style means that Connie ingested the seeds, then "inadvertently" planted them while hiking. Elk style plantings (in later episodes) are "controls" — testing whether digestion is helpful for assisted migration.

    40 minutes - published August 30, 2016.    WATCH

       Pt. 7F: Assisted Migration Coyote Style cont. (Alligator Juniper)

    Continuation of the previous episode, filmed 25 July 2016, Chama NM. Includes a "control" seed planting on same slope aspect, nearby patch.

    33 minutes - published August 30, 2016.    WATCH

       Pt. 7G: Assisted Migration Elk Style (Alligator Juniper)

    Third episode in the series filmed near Chama NM. Begins with a "control" (Elk style) seed planting and ends on same day with Coyote style. Filmed August 1, 2016

    44 minutes - published August 30, 2016.    WATCH

       Pt. 7H: Assisted Migration: ACT NOW! (Alligator Juniper)

    Midway through the video sequence filmed near Chama NM, Connie explains why she undertook this "assisted migration" action, including the history of her work with Torreya Guardians, and advocates for other naturalists to voluntarily (and responsibly) embark on projects for other tree species. Filmed August 1, 2016

    22 minutes - published September 10, 2016.    WATCH

       Pt. 7I: Pooped Out Coyote Goes Exploring

    Last planting "coyote-style" of Alligator Juniper seeds. The remainder of the video records "baseline" ecological data of the entire valley area — for comparison with how climate changes vegetation in future decades. Filmed August 2, 2016

    40 minutes - published December 28, 2016.    WATCH

       Pt. 7H: Final Day of Seed Planting (Chama NM)

    Final seed plantings "elk style", with summary talk of the 4 types of experiments initiated: (1) Germination/establishment differences bt Coyote and Elk style of seed planting; (2) Differences in slope and aspect preferences; (3) Habitat preferences; (4) Are there different success rates between the genotypes from 7 parent trees? Filmed August 8, 2016

    31 minutes - published December 29, 2016.    WATCH


    Connie Barlow presented this talk September 2015 at Michigan Technological University, the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. Speaking to faculty and students, this was an opportunity for Barlow to present the history of the "assisted migration" controversy — highlighting the reasons why foresters have already taken actions where conservation biologists fear to tread.

    60 minutes - published October 24, 2015.    WATCH

    Additional Climate-Forestry Videos by Connie Barlow


  • 2014 VIDEO: Connie Barlow presents: "Forest Trees in Climate Peril"

    A 45-minute talk that Connie delivered in Prescott, Arizona, is the single best place to begin learning how rapid climate change is endangering even common trees of American forests — and why our descendants will need to step in and help those trees disperse seeds farther north than birds and mammals can transport them.

    45 minutes - published May 12, 2014.    WATCH

  • "Helping Plants Move North in the Anthropocene" was the predecessor video that led to the "Climate, Trees, and Legacy" videoseries. In July 2008, a group of citizen-naturalists (Torreya Guardians) legally acquired 31 seedlings of the most endangered conifer in the world — Torreya taxifolia (the "Florida Torreya") — and then planted the seedlings beneath wild forest canopy on two private properties in the mountains of North Carolina. Here, the founder of Torreya Guardians (Connie Barlow) reports on what they have learned thus far in this first climate-driven, human-assisted migration of a plant in the USA.

    75 minutes - published November 7, 2013.    WATCH

  • Click for ONGOING VIDEO REPORT SERIES OF TORREYA GUARDIANS ASSISTED MIGRATION ACTIONS on the Torreya Guardians website. Samples include:

  • "Assisted Migration of Plants and Animals in a Changing Climate" is the first public event (videoed by Lou Niznik) in which Connie Barlow states the necessity of "assisted migration" for native species owing to rapid climate change. Filmed June 2004 at the EarthSpirit Rising conference, Midway College, near Lexington KY, Connie would later that year found the citizen activist group Torreya Guardians and recruit Paul S. Martin to coauthor a paper, "Bring Torreya Taxifolia North — Now".

    2 minutes - recorded June 2004.    WATCH

  • "Hot Climate Women Scientists in Cool Places"

    Connie Barlow volunteers some of her time to climate activism by doing what she does best: reporting on the science and creating videos. In this new 42-minute Youtube video, Connie leads viewers through an enhanced understanding of polar ice melt, a changing jet stream, and new discoveries in paleoclimates by excerpting the richly illustrated and powerful 2013 videos by four women in climate science: Jennifer Francis, Julie Brigham-Grette, Natalia Rybczynski, and Lisa Graumlich. Michael Dowd embeds this video in his HuffPo blog here.

    43 minutes - published May 22, 2013.    WATCH