Plant Responses to Extreme Climatic Events: A Field Test of Resilience Capacity at the Southern Range Edge
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Public Library of Science (PLOS)
Drought-induced mortalityScots pineIberian peninsulaNorthern ArizonaChange impactsSierra Nevada (Spain)Needle growthForestVegetation
Herrero, A.; Zamora, R. Plant Responses to Extreme Climatic Events: A Field Test of Resilience Capacity at the Southern Range Edge. Plos One, 9(1): e87842 (2014). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/30694]
PatrocinadorThis study was supported by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spanish Government) Projects CGL2008-04794 and CGL2011-29910 to R.Z., and by grant FPU-MEC (AP2005-1561) to A. H.
The expected and already observed increment in frequency of extreme climatic events may result in severe vegetation shifts. However, stabilizing mechanisms promoting community resilience can buffer the lasting impact of extreme events. The present work analyzes the resilience of a Mediterranean mountain ecosystem after an extreme drought in 2005, examining shoot-growth and needle-length resistance and resilience of dominant tree and shrub species (Pinus sylvestris vs Juniperus communis, and P. nigra vs J. oxycedrus) in two contrasting altitudinal ranges. Recorded high vegetative-resilience values indicate great tolerance to extreme droughts for the dominant species of pine-juniper woodlands. Observed tolerance could act as a stabilizing mechanism in rear range edges, such as the Mediterranean basin, where extreme events are predicted to be more detrimental and recurrent. However, resistance and resilience components vary across species, sites, and ontogenetic states: adult Pinus showed higher growth resistance than did adult Juniperus; saplings displayed higher recovery rates than did conspecific adults; and P. nigra saplings displayed higher resilience than did P. sylvestris saplings where the two species coexist. P. nigra and J. oxycedrus saplings at high and low elevations, respectively, were the most resilient at all the locations studied. Under recurrent extreme droughts, these species-specific differences in resistance and resilience could promote changes in vegetation structure and composition, even in areas with high tolerance to dry conditions.