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Humans have long utilized resources from all forest biomes, but the most indelible anthropogenic signature has been the expanse of human populations in temperate forests. The purpose of this review is to bring into focus the diverse forests of the temperate region of the biosphere, including those of hardwood, conifer and mixed dominance, with a particular emphasis on crucial challenges for the future of these forested areas. Implicit in the term ‘temperate’ is that the predominant climate of these forest regions has distinct cyclic, seasonal changes involving periods of growth and dormancy. The specific temporal patterns of seasonal change, however, display an impressive variability among temperate forest regions. In addition to the more apparent current anthropogenic disturbances of temperate forests, such as forest management and conversion to agriculture, human alteration of temperate forests is actually an ancient phenomenon, going as far back as 7000 yr before present (BP). As deep-seated as these past legacies are for temperate forests, all current and future perturbations, including timber harvesting, excess nitrogen deposition, altered species’ phenologies, and increasing frequency of drought and fire, must be viewed through the lens of climate change.


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Copyright © 2016 The Author.