Inter-annual variability of seed rain and seedling establishment of two woody Mediterranean species under field-induced drought and warming

del Cacho M., Estiarte M., Peñuelas J., Lloret F. (2013) Inter-annual variability of seed rain and seedling establishment of two woody Mediterranean species under field-induced drought and warming. Population Ecology. 55: 277-289.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10144-013-0365-6

Resum:

We aimed to assess the impact of warmer and drier climate change conditions on the seed rain and seedling establishment of Globularia alypum L. and Erica multiflora L., two dominant species in Western coastal Mediterranean shrublands. We performed a non-intrusive field experiment in which we increased the night-time temperatures and excluded spring and autumn rainfall. We monitored the seed rain over 5 years and the seedling recruitment over 9 years on these experimental plots. Seed rain of E. multiflora was enhanced by warming treatment in relation to control, and higher annual rainfall, while seed rain of G. alypum was increased by drought treatment in relation to control, dry years and higher minimum annual temperature. Annual rainfall enhanced the seedling emergence of both species, which also positively correlated with annual mean temperatures. Drought treatment significantly decreased seedling emergence for both species, which was higher in open areas than below vegetation cover. The seedling survival of both species diminished at closer distances to competing neighbours, and in G. alypum seedling survival was higher with lower annual mean temperatures and higher annual rainfall, but also in drought treatment, which have experienced vegetation cover decline. The study confirms that the increasing aridity in Mediterranean ecosystems would constrain the early stages of development in typical co-occurring shrubs. However, there are contrasting responses to climatic conditions between species recruitment, which might favour changes in vegetation through modification of species relative abundance. © 2013 The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan.

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Reproductive output in Mediterranean shrubs under climate change experimentally induced by drought and warming

del Cacho M., Penuelas J., Lloret F. (2013) Reproductive output in Mediterranean shrubs under climate change experimentally induced by drought and warming. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. 15: 319-327.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.ppees.2013.07.001

Resum:

The effects of climate change on plant reproductive performance affects the sequence of different plant reproductive stages from flowering to seed production and viability, as well as the network of relationships between them. These effects are expected to respond to different components of climate change, such as temperature and water availability, and may be sensitive to differences in species phenology.We used long-term experimental drought and warming treatments to study the effect of climate change on flower production, fruit and seed-set, seed size and seed germination rate (proportion of germinating seeds) in three Mediterranean shrubs coexisting in a coastal shrubland.Larger plants produced significantly more flowers in all three species, and higher fruit-set in Dorycnium pentaphyllum. Flower production was reduced in drought and warming treatments in the spring-flowering species D. pentaphyllum and Helianthemum syriacum, but not in the autumn-winter species Erica multiflora, which increased flowering in the warming treatment. However, the drought treatment eventually resulted in a decreased seed-set in E. multiflora. Structural equation modelling revealed strong correlations between the sequential reproductive stages. Specifically, flower density in inflorescences determined seed-set in H. syriacum, and seed size and germination rate in E. multiflora. Nevertheless, the relevance of relationships between reproductive traits changed between climatic treatments: in D. pentaphyllum a direct relationship between plant size and seed size only arised in the drought treatment, while in H. syriacum climate treatments resulted in a stronger relationship between the number of flowers and seed-set.This experimental study shows the ability of changing climatic variables to determine the reproductive sequential process of woody species. We show that several parameters of the reproductive performance of some Mediterranean species are affected by drought and warming treatments simulating climate change, highlighting the importance of changes in both water availability and temperature, and the sequential relationship between reproductive stages. Phenological patterns also contribute to species' differential responses to climatic change, due to the relationship of these patterns with resource availability, environmental conditions and plant-pollinator interactions. © 2013.

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