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The complex relationship between climate and sugar maple health: Climate change implications in Vermont for a key northern hardwood species

This study compared 141 ecologically relevant climate metrics to field assessments of sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) canopy condition across Vermont, USA from 1988 to 2012. After removing the influence of disturbance events during this time period to isolate the impact of climate, we identified five climate metrics that were significantly related to sugar maple crown condition. While three of these are monthly summary metrics commonly used in climate analyses (minimum April, August and October temperatures), two are novel metrics designed to capture extreme climate events (periods of unusual warmth in January and August). The proportion of climate-driven variability in canopy condition is comparable to the proportion accounted for by defoliating pests and other disturbance events.