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Michael Melford

The search for the southernmost tree in the world led to Isla Hornos, the last scrap of land in the Tierra del Fuego. The expedition, led by Brian Buma, a forest ecologist at the University of Colorado, Denver, determined that the titleholder was Nothofagus betuloides, a 41-year-old Magellan’s beech just under two inches in diameter that stands two feet high. With a baseline established, scientists hope to monitor soil warmth and tree growth—and in an age of climate change—determine whether that southernmost edge will advance south toward Antarctica.


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