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Title: Declines in low-elevation subalpine tree populations outpace growth in high-elevation populations with warming

Abstract

Species distribution shifts in response to climate change require that recruitment increase beyond current range boundaries. For trees with long life spans, the importance of climate-sensitive seedling establishment to the pace of range shifts has not been demonstrated quantitatively. Using spatially explicit, stochastic population models combined with data from long-term forest surveys, we explored whether the climate-sensitivity of recruitment observed in climate manipulation experiments was sufficient to alter populations and elevation ranges of two widely distributed, high-elevation North American conifers. Empirically observed, warming-driven declines in recruitment led to rapid modelled population declines at the low-elevation, ‘warm edge’ of subalpine forest and slow emergence of populations beyond the high-elevation, ‘cool edge’. Because population declines in the forest occurred much faster than population emergence in the alpine, we observed range contraction for both species. For Engelmann spruce, this contraction was permanent over the modelled time horizon, even in the presence of increased moisture. For limber pine, lower sensitivity to warming may facilitate persistence at low elevations – especially in the presence of increased moisture – and rapid establishment above tree line, and, ultimately, expansion into the alpine. Synthesis. Assuming 21st century warming and no additional moisture, population dynamics in high-elevation forests ledmore » to transient range contractions for limber pine and potentially permanent range contractions for Engelmann spruce. Thus, limitations to seedling recruitment with warming can constrain the pace of subalpine tree range shifts.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [4];  [5]
  1. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Univ. of California, Merced, CA (United States)
  3. US Geological Survey, Boise, ID (United States)
  4. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
  5. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States); Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Univ. of California, Merced, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1379924
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1375086
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-05CH11231; FG02-07ER64457
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Ecology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 105; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 0022-0477
Publisher:
Wiley
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; climate change; conifer; demographic model; range shift; subalpine forest; time-lag; tree line

Citation Formats

Conlisk, Erin, Castanha, Cristina, Germino, Matthew J., Veblen, Thomas T., Smith, Jeremy M., and Kueppers, Lara M.. Declines in low-elevation subalpine tree populations outpace growth in high-elevation populations with warming. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12750.
Conlisk, Erin, Castanha, Cristina, Germino, Matthew J., Veblen, Thomas T., Smith, Jeremy M., & Kueppers, Lara M.. Declines in low-elevation subalpine tree populations outpace growth in high-elevation populations with warming. United States. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12750.
Conlisk, Erin, Castanha, Cristina, Germino, Matthew J., Veblen, Thomas T., Smith, Jeremy M., and Kueppers, Lara M.. Wed . "Declines in low-elevation subalpine tree populations outpace growth in high-elevation populations with warming". United States. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12750. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1379924.
@article{osti_1379924,
title = {Declines in low-elevation subalpine tree populations outpace growth in high-elevation populations with warming},
author = {Conlisk, Erin and Castanha, Cristina and Germino, Matthew J. and Veblen, Thomas T. and Smith, Jeremy M. and Kueppers, Lara M.},
abstractNote = {Species distribution shifts in response to climate change require that recruitment increase beyond current range boundaries. For trees with long life spans, the importance of climate-sensitive seedling establishment to the pace of range shifts has not been demonstrated quantitatively. Using spatially explicit, stochastic population models combined with data from long-term forest surveys, we explored whether the climate-sensitivity of recruitment observed in climate manipulation experiments was sufficient to alter populations and elevation ranges of two widely distributed, high-elevation North American conifers. Empirically observed, warming-driven declines in recruitment led to rapid modelled population declines at the low-elevation, ‘warm edge’ of subalpine forest and slow emergence of populations beyond the high-elevation, ‘cool edge’. Because population declines in the forest occurred much faster than population emergence in the alpine, we observed range contraction for both species. For Engelmann spruce, this contraction was permanent over the modelled time horizon, even in the presence of increased moisture. For limber pine, lower sensitivity to warming may facilitate persistence at low elevations – especially in the presence of increased moisture – and rapid establishment above tree line, and, ultimately, expansion into the alpine. Synthesis. Assuming 21st century warming and no additional moisture, population dynamics in high-elevation forests led to transient range contractions for limber pine and potentially permanent range contractions for Engelmann spruce. Thus, limitations to seedling recruitment with warming can constrain the pace of subalpine tree range shifts.},
doi = {10.1111/1365-2745.12750},
journal = {Journal of Ecology},
number = 5,
volume = 105,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Feb 08 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Wed Feb 08 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

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Cited by: 4works
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  • Cited by 4
  • Accurately predicting upslope shifts in subalpine tree ranges with warming requires understanding how future forest populations will be affected by climate change, as these are the seed sources for new tree line and alpine populations. Early life history stages are particularly sensitive to climate and are also influenced by genetic variation among populations. Here, we tested the climate sensitivity of germination and initial development for two widely distributed subalpine conifers, using controlled-environment growth chambers with one temperature regime from subalpine forest in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and one 5 °C warmer, and two soil moisture levels. We also tracked germinationmore » rate and timing, rate of seedling development, and seedling morphology for two seed provenances separated by ~300 m elevation. Warming advanced germination timing and initial seedling development by a total of ~2 weeks, advances comparable to mean differences between provenances. Advances were similar for both provenances and species; however, warming reduced the overall germination rate, as did low soil moisture, only for Picea engelmannii. A three-year field warming and watering experiment planted with the same species and provenances yielded responses qualitatively consistent with the lab trials. Altogether these experiments indicate that in a warmer, drier climate, P. engelmannii germination, and thus regeneration, could decline, which could lead to declining subalpine forest populations, while Pinus flexilis forest populations could remain robust as a seed source for upslope range shifts.« less
  • Accurately predicting upslope shifts in subalpine tree ranges with warming requires understanding how future forest populations will be affected by climate change, as these are the seed sources for new tree line and alpine populations. Early life history stages are particularly sensitive to climate and are also influenced by genetic variation among populations. We tested the climate sensitivity of germination and initial development for two widely distributed subalpine conifers, using controlled-environment growth chambers with one temperature regime from subalpine forest in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and one 5 °C warmer, and two soil moisture levels. We tracked germination rate andmore » timing, rate of seedling development, and seedling morphology for two seed provenances separated by ~300 m elevation. Warming advanced germination timing and initial seedling development by a total of ~2 weeks, advances comparable to mean differences between provenances. Advances were similar for both provenances and species; however, warming reduced the overall germination rate, as did low soil moisture, only for Picea engelmannii. A three-year field warming and watering experiment planted with the same species and provenances yielded responses qualitatively consistent with the lab trials. Together these experiments indicate that in a warmer, drier climate, P. engelmannii germination, and thus regeneration, could decline, which could lead to declining subalpine forest populations, while Pinus flexilis forest populations could remain robust as a seed source for upslope range shifts.« less
  • Cited by 7
  • Detailed stem analysis was used to measure historical growth of three coniferous tree species assumed to represent a wide range of susceptibility to potential acidic deposition effects on cation leaching. Sample trees were growing on an outwash plain in even-aged monoculture plantations with similar stand histories and soils. Stepwise multiple regression was used to assess relationships between observed variations in growth and climatic variables. The ring-number sequence, a relative measure of historical tree growth that did not require standardization, was particularly useful in analyses of growth-environment relationships for young trees that exhibit consistent apical growth. Species/site groups assumed to bemore » more susceptible to acidic deposition effects exhibited significant decreases in growth after 1960, but these decreases were correlated with climatic variables. Growth-climate relationships derived for the pre-1960s period did not predict decreases in tree growth observed during the mid-1960s and late-1970s, indicating a lack of time stability in growth-climate relationships. This may be due to many factors, including maturation, climatic anomalies, and/or acidic deposition effects. This correlational study can not establish cause-and-effect relationships between tree growth and climate or acidic deposition. Independent confirmation and studies of the physiological mechanisms involved are needed to substantiate these results.« less