Hotter temperature due to climate change and biological factors have been pushing several animals and plants toward the poles in search of a suitable condition where they can survive, grow and reproduce. In North America, this movement is northward. However, there are some species which can not thrive in the north. One such species is Sugar Maple tree. Known for its breathtaking fall foliage and sweet maple syrup, these Sugar maple trees have been threatened by the rising temperature due to global warming and climate change. In recent years, we have not only seen a drastic decline in their population but also the sweetness of the syrup has reduced significantly.
Sugar maple or Acer saccharum, a deciduous tree, is found in Canada and the United States of America, relies heavily on cold winters for its growth. Most of these trees grow in temperate forests which are located between tropical and boreal regions, in the tropic region. As the temperature continues to rise, the Sugar maple trees are expected to move further north in the boreal regions. However, recent studies show that this movement toward north would not favour the Sugar maple tree because of difference in the soil type and microbes in the boreal forests which is not conducive to their growth.
The soil in the boreal forests has different properties, pH and conductivity. Scientists experimented to see if Sugar Maple trees could thrive in boreal forest soil and the findings were disappointing. They collected soil from temperate and boreal forests to monitor the growth of the trees. It was observed that in boreal forest soil, the growth and survival of the sugar maple trees reduced significantly. The biotic and abiotic factors in the boreal forest soil proved inhospitable for their growth. This would mean in case of extreme climate scenarios when the temperature in the temperate regions becomes too hot to maintain the growth of sugar maple trees, they, unlike other plants, can not adapt and move to the north in boreal forests. This would mean a further decline in their population.
Even today, with the current fluctuating climate conditions, the sugar maple trees population is on the decline. Their foliage colour, too, has changed — the bright red colour of the leaves have been fading due to warmer winters. Other concern is the reduction of sugar content in its syrup. Sugar maple trees have the sap with highest sugar content. In the period between February and April, the sap from these sugar maple trees is extracted and converted into syrup. Approximately, to create a gallon of maple syrup, 40 gallons of maple sap is required. The sugar content depends on freezing winters but in recent years, the snowpack which covers these trees has been shrinking due to rising temperature. This means now more sap is required to create a syrup with the same sugar concentration. As many people in North America depend on these sugar maple trees for their livelihood, climate change will impact them negatively too. Unless we cut down on our greenhouse gases emissions immediately, we might just lose our Sugar maple trees forever.