Plant traits poorly predict winner and loser shrub species in a warming tundra biome

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Mariana García Criado , Isla H. Myers-Smith , Anne D. Bjorkman, Signe Normand, Anne Blach-Overgaard, Haydn J.D. Thomas, Anu Eskelinen, Konsta Happonen, Juha M. Alatalo, Alba Anadon-Rosell, Isabelle Aubin, Mariska te Beest, Katlyn R. Betway-May, Daan Blok, Allan Buras, Bruno E.L. Cerabolini, Katherine Christie, J. Hans C. Cornelissen, Bruce C. Forbes, Esther R. Frei, Paul Grogan, Luise Hermanutz, Robert D. Hollister, James Hudson, Maitane Iturrate-Garcia, Elina Kaarlejärvi, Michael Kleyer, Laurent J. Lamarque, Jonas J Lembrechts , Esther Lévesque, Miska Luoto, Petr Macek, Jeremy May, Janet S. Prevéy, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub, Serge N. Sheremetiev, Laura Siegwart Collier, Nadia Soudzilovskaia, Andrew Trant, Susanna E. Venn, Anna-Maria Virkkala


Climate change is leading to a species redistributions. In the tundra biome, many shrub species are expanding into new areas, a process known as shrubification. However, not all tundra shrub species will benefit from warming. Winner and loser species (those projected to expand and contract their ranges, and/or those that have increased or decreased in cover over time), and the characteristics that may determine success or failure, have not been fully identified. Here, we investigate whether current range sizes are related to plant trait values and intraspecific trait variation by combining 17,921 trait records and distribution data from 62 shrub species across three continents (>30 degrees north). In addition, we determine which traits are associated with species projected by species distribution models to expand or contract their ranges under climate change, and species that have undergone past cover changes over time. Winner and loser shrub species identified from projected range shifts generally differed from those identified from observed past cover change. We found that greater variation in seed mass and specific leaf area were related to larger projected range shifts. Projected winner species generally had greater seed mass values than ‘no change’ and loser species. However, contrary to our expectations, traits’ values and variation were not consistently related to current and projected ranges, and depended upon the future climate scenarios considered in range projections. There were no clear relationships either between cover change over time and trait values or variation. Overall, our findings indicate that abundance changes
and projected range shifts will not lead to directional modifications in shrub trait composition or variation with future warming, since winner and loser species share relatively similar trait spaces based on commonly measured traits. Future research could investigate other morpho-physiological traits underpinning climatic preferences, which might better predict future range and abundance changes.



Biodiversity, Plant Biology, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


climate change, traits, global change ecology, Intraspecific trait variation, range 135 dynamics, species abundances, species distributions, tundra biome., range dynamics, tundra biome


Published: 2022-11-30 17:15


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Code and data will be made available at the time of publication in an open-access repository (GitHub) and have a DOI number assigned through Zenodo.