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Proc Biol Sci. 2014 Nov 7;281(1794):20141779. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1779.

Non-climatic constraints on upper elevational plant range expansion under climate change.

Author information

1
Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 boule. de l'Université, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada J1K 2R1 Department of Geography, Memorial University, 230 Elizabeth Avenue, St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada A1B 3X9 carissa.brown@mun.ca.
2
Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 boule. de l'Université, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada J1K 2R1.

Abstract

We are limited in our ability to predict climate-change-induced range shifts by our inadequate understanding of how non-climatic factors contribute to determining range limits along putatively climatic gradients. Here, we present a unique combination of observations and experiments demonstrating that seed predation and soil properties strongly limit regeneration beyond the upper elevational range limit of sugar maple, a tree species of major economic importance. Most strikingly, regeneration beyond the range limit occurred almost exclusively when seeds were experimentally protected from predators. Regeneration from seed was depressed on soil from beyond the range edge when this soil was transplanted to sites within the range, with indirect evidence suggesting that fungal pathogens play a role. Non-climatic factors are clearly in need of careful attention when attempting to predict the biotic consequences of climate change. At minimum, we can expect non-climatic factors to create substantial time lags between the creation of more favourable climatic conditions and range expansion.

KEYWORDS:

Acer saccharum; biotic interactions; climate change; range expansion; seed predation; substrate

PMID:
25253462
PMCID:
PMC4211457
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2014.1779
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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