Evidence of current impact of climate change on life: A walk from genes to the biosphere

Penuelas J., Sardans J., Estiarte M., Ogaya R., Carnicer J., Coll M., Barbeta A., Rivas-Ubach A., Llusia J., Garbulsky M., Filella I., Jump A.S. (2013) Evidence of current impact of climate change on life: A walk from genes to the biosphere. Global Change Biology. 19: 2303-2338.
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Doi: 10.1111/gcb.12143

Resum:

We review the evidence of how organisms and populations are currently responding to climate change through phenotypic plasticity, genotypic evolution, changes in distribution and, in some cases, local extinction. Organisms alter their gene expression and metabolism to increase the concentrations of several antistress compounds and to change their physiology, phenology, growth and reproduction in response to climate change. Rapid adaptation and microevolution occur at the population level. Together with these phenotypic and genotypic adaptations, the movement of organisms and the turnover of populations can lead to migration toward habitats with better conditions unless hindered by barriers. Both migration and local extinction of populations have occurred. However, many unknowns for all these processes remain. The roles of phenotypic plasticity and genotypic evolution and their possible trade-offs and links with population structure warrant further research. The application of omic techniques to ecological studies will greatly favor this research. It remains poorly understood how climate change will result in asymmetrical responses of species and how it will interact with other increasing global impacts, such as N eutrophication, changes in environmental N : P ratios and species invasion, among many others. The biogeochemical and biophysical feedbacks on climate of all these changes in vegetation are also poorly understood. We here review the evidence of responses to climate change and discuss the perspectives for increasing our knowledge of the interactions between climate change and life. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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Reduced tree health and seedling production in fragmented Fagus sylvatica forest patches in the Montseny Mountains (NE Spain)

Barbeta A., Peñuelas J., Ogaya R., Jump A.S. (2011) Reduced tree health and seedling production in fragmented Fagus sylvatica forest patches in the Montseny Mountains (NE Spain). Forest Ecology and Management. 261: 2029-2037.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.02.029

Resum:

Habitat fragmentation results in smaller and more isolated populations that may be at higher risk of extirpation or further decline in comparison with their more continuously distributed progenitors. Risks to fragmented populations have frequently been considered from the perspective of population genetics, however, disruption of normal plant demography may be an equal or greater threat to population persistence. We compared demographic performance and tree health in continuous and fragmented forest plots with similar tree size structure and local climatic and physiographic conditions in order to determine if fragments are characterized by poor health and reproduction. We found that beech forest fragments showed lower seedling density, more tree crown damage and also higher percentage of dead trees. However, mortality of juveniles in the youngest age class was substantially lower in fragments such that long-term population structure remained similar between the two forest types. If reduced mortality compensates for reduced seedling establishment, as our data suggest, then fragmented populations should show greater long-term persistence than would be predicted based on comparison of young age cohorts alone. However, despite such demographic compensation, the decreased health of adult trees may pose an increasing future threat to the fragmented populations. Our results demonstrate the importance of integrating demographic patterns over long time periods and not relying on single year or cohort comparisons and may partly explain population genetic differences previously reported for the same populations. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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