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The role of microclimate for the performance and distribution of forest plants
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0271-3306
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Microclimatic gradients may have large influence on individual vital rates and population growth rates of species, and limit their distributions. Therefore, I focused on the influence of microclimate on individual performance and distribution of species. Further, I examined differences in how microclimate affect species with contrasting distributions or different ecophysiological traits, and populations within species. More specifically, I investigated the performance of northern and southern distributed forest bryophytes that were transplanted across microclimatic gradients, and the timing of vegetative and reproductive development among northern, marginal and more southern populations of a forest herb in a common garden. Also, I compared the landscape and continental distributions across forest bryophytes and vascular plants and, thus, their distribution limiting factors at different spatial scales. Lastly, I examined the population dynamics across microclimatic gradients of transplants from northern and southern populations of a forest moss. The effects of microclimatic conditions on performance differed among bryophytes with contrasting distributions. There were no clear differences between northern and southern populations in the timing of development of a forest herb or in the population dynamics of a moss. However, within each region there was a differentiation of the forest herb populations, related to variation in local climatic conditions and in the south also to proportion of deciduous trees. The continental distributions of species were reflected in their landscape distributions and vice versa, in terms of their occurrence optima for climatic variables. The variation in landscape climatic optima was, however, larger than predicted, which limit the precision for predictions of microrefugia. Probably, the distributions of vascular plants were more affected by temperature than the distributions of bryophytes. Bryophytes are sensitive to moisture conditions, which was demonstrated by a correlation between evaporation and the population growth rate of a forest moss. We might be able to predict species’ landscape scale distributions by linking microclimatic conditions to their population growth rates, via their vital rates, and infer larger scale distribution patterns.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University , 2016. , 58 p.
Keyword [en]
performance, microclimate, spatial scales, continental, landscape, distribution patterns, distribution limits, phenology, vegetative development, reproductive development, vital rates, population growth rate, vascular plants, bryophytes, distribution modelling
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129488ISBN: 978-91-7649-423-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-129488DiVA: diva2:922563
Public defence
2016-06-10, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen) NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
EkoKlim
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-05-18 Created: 2016-04-22 Last updated: 2017-02-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Performance of Forest Bryophytes with Different Geographical Distributions Transplanted across a Topographically Heterogeneous Landscape
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Performance of Forest Bryophytes with Different Geographical Distributions Transplanted across a Topographically Heterogeneous Landscape
2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 11, e112943Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Most species distribution models assume a close link between climatic conditions and species distributions. Yet, we know little about the link between species’ geographical distributions and the sensitivity of performance to local environmental factors. We studied the performance of three bryophyte species transplanted at south- and north-facing slopes in a boreal forest landscape in Sweden. At the same sites, we measured both air and ground temperature. We hypothesized that the two southerly distributed species Eurhynchium angustirete and Herzogiella seligeri perform better on south-facing slopes and in warm conditions, and that the northerly distributed species Barbilophozia lycopodioides perform better on north-facing slopes and in relatively cool conditions. The northern, but not the two southern species, showed the predicted relationship with slope aspect. However, the performance of one of the two southern species was still enhanced by warm temperatures. An important reason for the inconsistent results can be that microclimatic gradients across landscapes are complex and influenced by many climate-forcing factors. Therefore, comparing only north- and south-facing slopes might not capture the complexity of microclimatic gradients. Population growth rates and potential distributions are the integrated results of all vital rates. Still, the study of selected vital rates constitutes an important first step to understand the relationship between population growth rates and geographical distributions and is essential to better predict how climate change influences species distributions.

Keyword
performance, transplants, bryophytes, microclimate, distributions, complex terrain, range margins
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129480 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0112943 (DOI)
Projects
EkoKlim
Available from: 2016-04-22 Created: 2016-04-22 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
2. Population differentiation in timing of development in a forest herb associated with local climate and canopy closure
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Population differentiation in timing of development in a forest herb associated with local climate and canopy closure
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Our knowledge of how plant seasonal development is related to local versus larger-scale environmental variation is limited. We investigated differentiation in the timing of vegetative and reproductive development among populations of the forest herb Lathyrus vernus over different spatial scales. We predicted earlier development and shorter development time for populations from a colder, northern region compared to populations from a warmer, southern region. Also, we predicted earlier and shorter development within regions to be associated with colder temperatures and higher proportions of deciduous trees at their sites of origin. Lastly, we predicted that earlier flowering is strongly correlated with earlier start of development. To examine these predictions, we conducted a common garden study, and compared the development of 10 northern and 10 southern Swedish L. vernus populations. Start of development, development time and start of flowering did not differ between populations from the two regions in contrast to our prediction. Within the southern region, start of flowering was earlier in populations from colder sites, while start of development was earlier with colder temperatures within the northern region. Start of flowering occurred earlier in southern populations from sites with higher proportion of deciduous trees. Thus, the prediction for the timing of development within regions was partly confirmed. However, vegetative and reproductive development was not simultaneously influenced by temperature and proportion of deciduous trees within regions, possibly due to the negative correlation between vegetative growth and development time. This implies that earlier start of development or shorter development time not necessarily correspond to earlier start of flowering or vice versa. Overall, the results suggest that smaller scale effects within region, such as temperature and interspecific competition for light, was more important for the timing of development than the larger scale gradients between regions. Lastly, the population differentiation across gradients of temperature and proportion of deciduous trees implies that populations may adapt to long-term changes in light or climatic conditions, and differ in their short-term response to climate change.

Keyword
reproductive development, vegetative development, local climate, forest herb, phenology, range margins, distributions
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129485 (URN)
Projects
EkoKlim
Available from: 2016-04-22 Created: 2016-04-22 Last updated: 2016-05-09Bibliographically approved
3. Plant landscape climatic optima correlate with their continental range optima
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Plant landscape climatic optima correlate with their continental range optima
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aim

Factors determining species’ distributions at smaller scales may inform us about larger scale distributions, and vice versa. We predicted that landscape and continental climatic optima for plants are positively correlated, and that species that have their optima outside a given focal landscape will cluster at the warmest or coldest landscape patches. Also, we predicted that the correlations of temperature optima are stronger for vascular plants than for bryophytes, since bryophytes may be regulated also by air moisture.

Location

Ångermanland, Sweden (landscape scale); Europe (continental scale).

Methods

We derived landscape optima from fine-grained temperature models (50 m) and species inventories, and continental optima from MaxEnt niche modelling based on GBIF occurrences and Worldclim temperatures (c. 1000 m), for 96 bryophytes and 50 vascular plants. Optima were derived for growing degree days, and maximum and minimum temperature.

Results

The landscape and continental optima of all species were positively correlated for growing degree days and maximum temperature (r = 0.19 and r = 0.44), but not for minimum temperature (r = -0.010). Species with their continental optima outside the focal landscape did not clearly cluster in the most extreme parts of the landscape. For vascular plants the correlation was positive for both growing degree days and maximum temperature (r = 0.50 and r = 0.64), but for bryophytes only for maximum temperature (r = 0.34).

Main conclusions

The optima correlations for maximum temperature and growing degree days indicate that we can infer large scale distribution patterns of plants from their local scale distributions, and suggest in which environments species occur if we only know their continental scale optima. The lack of clustering of southern and northern species limits the possibility for conservation actions targeting microrefugia. Lastly, the correlations indicate that the distributions of vascular plants were more influenced by temperature than bryophytes.

Keyword
bryophytes, climatic optima, distribution, microclimate, landscape scale, continental scale, vascular plants
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129486 (URN)
Projects
EkoKlim
Available from: 2016-04-22 Created: 2016-04-22 Last updated: 2016-05-09Bibliographically approved
4. Population dynamics of moss transplants across microclimatic gradients
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Population dynamics of moss transplants across microclimatic gradients
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In order to determine the response of a species to climatic change it is important to study how climatic factors influence its vital rates and population growth rate across climatic gradients. We investigated how microclimate influence the population dynamics of transplants from northern and more southern populations of the forest bryophyte Hylocomiastrum umbratum. We predicted that its population growth rate is favored by moist microclimates with colder maximum temperatures, longer snow cover duration and less evaporation, and that annual shoots (segments) will be shorter under drier conditions. We also predicted that northern populations will have higher population growth rate and larger segments than southern populations when transplanted to the northern range. We placed transplants from three northern and three southern populations of H. umbratum at 30 forested sites in central Sweden differing in microclimate. We marked and followed the growth of individual shoots during two years, and calculated population growth rates and stable stage distributions of segment size classes using transition matrix models for northern and southern transplants, respectively, at each locality. Population growth rate was lower and shorter segments developed at sites with higher evaporation, corresponding to our hypothesis. There were no significant difference in population growth rate and stable stage segment length between southern and northern populations. Higher evaporation during the summer result in lower population growth rates of H. umbratum by affecting vital rates, in terms of less segment growth. Both climate change and forestry may alter evaporation conditions across the landscape and, thus, the future distribution of the species.

Keyword
population dynamics, vital rates, population growth rate, bryophytes, microclimate, evaporation, temperature, distributions, niche
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129487 (URN)
Projects
EkoKlim
Available from: 2016-04-22 Created: 2016-04-22 Last updated: 2016-05-09Bibliographically approved

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