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Corpus Systématique Végétale

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Range shifts and global warming: ecological responses of Empetrum nigrum experimental warming at its northern (high Arctic) and southern (Atlantic) geographical range margin

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  • Letter
  • Special Issue on Dynamics of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Vegetation
  • Empetrum nigrum
  • global change
  • geographical range margins
  • range shifts
  • OTCs
  • growing season
  • phenology
  • annual growth
  • leaf life span
  • competition
Nom du fichier dans la ressource
  • Bert Buizer 1
  • Stef Weijers 1
  • Peter M van Bodegom 1
  • Inger Greve Alsos 2
  • Pernille Bronken Eidesen 3
  • Johan van Breda 1
  • Maarten de Korte 1
  • Jaap van Rijckevorsel 1
  • Jelte Rozema 1
  • 1) Subdepartment of Systems Ecology, Department of Ecological Science, Faculty of Earth and LifeScience, VU University, De Boelelaan 1085 NL-1081 HV, The Netherlands
  • 2) TromsUniversity Museum, NO-9037 Troms, Norway
  • 3) The University Centre inSvalbard, NO-9171 Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

Global change is expected to lead to range shifts of plant species. The ecological mechanisms underpinning these shifts are currently not well understood. Here, we compared ecological responses possibly underlying southern range contraction and northern range expansion of Empetrum nigrum, a key species in northern heathlands, which may be related to global change. We hypothesized a negative response to warming in the south (i.e.the Netherlands) and a positive response at the northern range margin (the tundra on Svalbard). Open top chambers (OTCs) were used to simulate global warming. In the south, OTC warming caused enhanced shoot growth and growth rate, biomass increment, advanced phenology, larger and heavier berries of Empetrum, while its growing season was extended by 75 days. Under OTC warming co-occurring Calluna vulgaris also showed an increased growing season length (by 98 days) as well as increased shoot growth rate and biomass growth, plant cover and height. Still, we found no evidence for increased competitiveness relative to Empetrum. In the north, Empetrum responded with increased shoot and biomass growth, enhanced berry development and ripening to warming. These responses exceeded those of co-occurring Cassiope tetragona with the exception of its biomass response. The direct and indirect ecological responses found do not readily explain the observed northward retreat of Empetrum at the southern range margin. The direct ecological responses found at its northern range margin are, on the other hand, in line with the increased occurrences of this species on Svalbard.

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  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
  • 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
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Environmental Research Letters

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