In "A glimpse of the past in a grain of pollen,"
Cathy Whitlock comments that lodgepole pine probably has a bright
future due to its ability to adapt to a warming climate (HCN,
5/30/05: A glimpse of the past in a grain of pollen). The question
is: How warm? Since all high-elevation conifers (including
lodgepole pine) are faced with a retreat upslope (growth at higher
elevations) in a warming climate, and since land area decreases
with altitude, their prospects of long-term survival don’t
seem so great. This would be especially so in Southern California,
where lodgepoles start around 8,000 feet. In a warming climate they
will soon run out of room, since the highest peak is about 11,500
feet, and relatively little land is above even 8,000 feet. Conifers
are generally considered relicts of wetter, cooler times when they
grew at much lower elevations than now.