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Biotic interactions overrule plant responses to climate, depending on the species' biogeography.

Welk A, Welk E, Bruelheide H - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Competition generally caused strong reductions of aboveground biomass and growth.In conclusion we suggest variation in relative importance of climate and biotic interactions on broader scales, mediated via species-specific sensitivities and factor-specific response patterns.Our results have important implications for species distribution models, as they emphasize the large-scale impact of biotic interactions on plant distribution patterns and the necessity to take plant range types into account.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany.

ABSTRACT
This study presents an experimental approach to assess the relative importance of climatic and biotic factors as determinants of species' geographical distributions. We asked to what extent responses of grassland plant species to biotic interactions vary with climate, and to what degree this variation depends on the species' biogeography. Using a gradient from oceanic to continental climate represented by nine common garden transplant sites in Germany, we experimentally tested whether congeneric grassland species of different geographic distribution (oceanic vs. continental plant range type) responded differently to combinations of climate, competition and mollusc herbivory. We found the relative importance of biotic interactions and climate to vary between the different components of plant performance. While survival and plant height increased with precipitation, temperature had no effect on plant performance. Additionally, species with continental plant range type increased their growth in more benign climatic conditions, while those with oceanic range type were largely unable to take a similar advantage of better climatic conditions. Competition generally caused strong reductions of aboveground biomass and growth. In contrast, herbivory had minor effects on survival and growth. Against expectation, these negative effects of competition and herbivory were not mitigated under more stressful continental climate conditions. In conclusion we suggest variation in relative importance of climate and biotic interactions on broader scales, mediated via species-specific sensitivities and factor-specific response patterns. Our results have important implications for species distribution models, as they emphasize the large-scale impact of biotic interactions on plant distribution patterns and the necessity to take plant range types into account.

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Locations of the Botanical Gardens in the transplant experiment showing the main gradients in climatic differences.A) Sum of the monthly mean temperature in summer (June-August), B) Precipitation of the vegetation period in mm. Climate data were obtainded from [26] and refer to the same periods as used in Table 1, but refer to long-term averages. For abbreviations of locations see Table 1.
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pone-0111023-g001: Locations of the Botanical Gardens in the transplant experiment showing the main gradients in climatic differences.A) Sum of the monthly mean temperature in summer (June-August), B) Precipitation of the vegetation period in mm. Climate data were obtainded from [26] and refer to the same periods as used in Table 1, but refer to long-term averages. For abbreviations of locations see Table 1.

Mentions: Based on these considerations a transplant experiment was set up in nine Botanic Gardens along a continentality gradient in Germany (Fig. 1), where the relative impact of biotic interactions (competition and mollusc herbivory) and climate was tested with congeneric plant species of contrasting plant range types. Such transplant experiments have been used before and demonstrated a strong climatic impact on the transplants' survival, growth and reproduction [23]–[25].


Biotic interactions overrule plant responses to climate, depending on the species' biogeography.

Welk A, Welk E, Bruelheide H - PLoS ONE (2014)

Locations of the Botanical Gardens in the transplant experiment showing the main gradients in climatic differences.A) Sum of the monthly mean temperature in summer (June-August), B) Precipitation of the vegetation period in mm. Climate data were obtainded from [26] and refer to the same periods as used in Table 1, but refer to long-term averages. For abbreviations of locations see Table 1.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4214694&req=5

pone-0111023-g001: Locations of the Botanical Gardens in the transplant experiment showing the main gradients in climatic differences.A) Sum of the monthly mean temperature in summer (June-August), B) Precipitation of the vegetation period in mm. Climate data were obtainded from [26] and refer to the same periods as used in Table 1, but refer to long-term averages. For abbreviations of locations see Table 1.
Mentions: Based on these considerations a transplant experiment was set up in nine Botanic Gardens along a continentality gradient in Germany (Fig. 1), where the relative impact of biotic interactions (competition and mollusc herbivory) and climate was tested with congeneric plant species of contrasting plant range types. Such transplant experiments have been used before and demonstrated a strong climatic impact on the transplants' survival, growth and reproduction [23]–[25].

Bottom Line: Competition generally caused strong reductions of aboveground biomass and growth.In conclusion we suggest variation in relative importance of climate and biotic interactions on broader scales, mediated via species-specific sensitivities and factor-specific response patterns.Our results have important implications for species distribution models, as they emphasize the large-scale impact of biotic interactions on plant distribution patterns and the necessity to take plant range types into account.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany.

ABSTRACT
This study presents an experimental approach to assess the relative importance of climatic and biotic factors as determinants of species' geographical distributions. We asked to what extent responses of grassland plant species to biotic interactions vary with climate, and to what degree this variation depends on the species' biogeography. Using a gradient from oceanic to continental climate represented by nine common garden transplant sites in Germany, we experimentally tested whether congeneric grassland species of different geographic distribution (oceanic vs. continental plant range type) responded differently to combinations of climate, competition and mollusc herbivory. We found the relative importance of biotic interactions and climate to vary between the different components of plant performance. While survival and plant height increased with precipitation, temperature had no effect on plant performance. Additionally, species with continental plant range type increased their growth in more benign climatic conditions, while those with oceanic range type were largely unable to take a similar advantage of better climatic conditions. Competition generally caused strong reductions of aboveground biomass and growth. In contrast, herbivory had minor effects on survival and growth. Against expectation, these negative effects of competition and herbivory were not mitigated under more stressful continental climate conditions. In conclusion we suggest variation in relative importance of climate and biotic interactions on broader scales, mediated via species-specific sensitivities and factor-specific response patterns. Our results have important implications for species distribution models, as they emphasize the large-scale impact of biotic interactions on plant distribution patterns and the necessity to take plant range types into account.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus