, Volume 69, Issue 1-3, pp 189-197

Climate and plant distribution at global and local scales

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Abstract

This paper investigates, with predictive models, the utility of ecophysiological responses to climate as predictors of plant distribution. At the global scale responses to extreme minimum temperatures and to the hydrological budget effectively predict the distribution limits of the major vegetation types of the World. A minimum temperature of -15°C, for example, appears critical in controlling the poleward spread of vegetation that is dominated by evergreen broadleaved species; however, the presence or absence of more frost resistant species, such as those that are deciduous broadleaved, is not obviously explained in terms of extremes of climate. In such cases, predicting the competitive relationships between species is necessary and dependent on the climatic sensitivity of population dynamics.

We are grateful to Hans de Kroon for discussions on the application of matrices to ecology.