Sugar Maple

Climate Effects on the Sugar Maple and the Corresponding Socio-economic Responses

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(photo credits: David Bruce)

This study examines the effects of climate variation on sugar maple quality and corresponding socio-economic responses. Sugar maple production and consumption systems are used here as a case study to explore complex interactions between natural and human systems. Our primary study objective is to provide quantitative data on how sugar maple syrup quality is vulnerable to changing climate conditions and the resulting linkages to consumer purchasing decisions, markets, producer livelihoods, ecological knowledge and management practices across its range. We are collaborating with institutions from Quebec to Virginia. The specific objectives of this study are:

Objective #1 – Evaluate Climate Effects on Maple Syrup Quality and Yield: We will measure changes in climate patterns and sugar maple phenology over the past fifty years at a handful of representative production sites in Eastern North America from Canada to Virginia. At each study site, we will quantify the coupled effects of climate and other environmental factors on sugar maple sap yields and quality via changes in secondary metabolite chemistry and sensory properties.

Objective # 2 – Determine Consumer Behavior Decisions and Associated Market Implications: We will determine behavioral responses of consumers to climate-induced changes in maple syrup quality and their implications on markets and farmer livelihoods.

Objective #3 – Elucidate Feedbacks between Producer Livelihoods, Ecological Knowledge and Management Practices: We will document how livelihood changes and producer perceptions of climate effects on maple syrup quality and yields feedback into adaptive management of natural resources against changing climate conditions. We will identify the socio-ecological factors that enhance producer resilience to global environmental change.

Objective #4 – Develop Production Plans and Policies to Mitigate Climate Risk: We will integrate findings from Objectives #1-3 and use this evidence to develop management plans and policy suggestions for natural resource management under various climate scenarios.

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