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Abstract Detail



Ecophysiology

CASPER , BRENDA B [1], LIANCOURT, PIERRE [2], BOLDGIV, BAZARTSEREN [3], SONG, DANIEL S [1], SPENCE, LAURA A [4], HELLIKER, BRENT R [1], PETRAITIS, PETER S [1].

Leaf-trait plasticity predicts vulnerability to climate change.

Climate change and resulting changes in species interactions can drastically alter plant community composition and have profound ramifications for ecosystem structure and function.  Predicting how different plant species will respond to climate change is a major challenge.   Functional traits, such as certain plant leaf traits, explain differences among species in performance under particular environmental conditions and, therefore, could prove useful in predicting a species’ susceptibility to climate change.  However, traits are often plastic, not fixed, especially for plants.  We know very little about the role trait plasticity in determining species’ performance with changing climate.  In a large climate change study in Mongolian steppe, we examined the utility of baseline leaf trait values and also leaf trait plasticity in explaining climate-induced biomass responses among 12 taxonomically diverse, co-occurring plant species.  We experimentally increased air temperature and/or altered precipitation to create three probable climate change scenarios and used a modeling approach to determine the best predictors of biomass change among species.  In all three scenarios, trait plasticity strongly predicted changes in biomass, while pre-existing trait values in the absence of climate change did not.  The particular traits for which plasticity proved consequential depended on the scenario and suggest that some climate change effects are mediated through altered plant-plant interactions.  Thus, we demonstrate that trait plasticity is an important determinant of species’ susceptibility to climate change and should not be overlooked in attempts to predict the fates of species and changes in community composition in a changing world.


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1 - University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biology, Leidy Labs, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-6018, USA
2 - Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Institute of Botany, Třeboň, Czech Republic
3 - National University of Mongolia, Department of Biology, Ulaanbaatar, 210646, Mongolia
4 - Sterling College, Craftsbury Common, VT, 05827, USA

Keywords:
Climate change
Drought
Increased precipitation
Leaf functional traits
Phenotypic plasticity
Warming.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 15
Location: Firs South/Boise Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: 15011
Abstract ID:167
Candidate for Awards:None


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