Oecologia

, Volume 171, Issue 1, pp 271–282 | Cite as

Warming and the dependence of limber pine (Pinus flexilis) establishment on summer soil moisture within and above its current elevation range

  • Andrew B. Moyes
  • Cristina Castanha
  • Matthew J. Germino
  • Lara M. Kueppers
Global change ecology - Original research

Abstract

Continued changes in climate are projected to alter the geographic distributions of plant species, in part by affecting where individuals can establish from seed. We tested the hypothesis that warming promotes uphill redistribution of subalpine tree populations by reducing cold limitation at high elevation and enhancing drought stress at low elevation. We seeded limber pine (Pinus flexilis) into plots with combinations of infrared heating and water addition treatments, at sites positioned in lower subalpine forest, the treeline ecotone, and alpine tundra. In 2010, first-year seedlings were assessed for physiological performance and survival over the snow-free growing season. Seedlings emerged in midsummer, about 5–8 weeks after snowmelt. Low temperature was not observed to limit seedling photosynthesis or respiration between emergence and October, and thus experimental warming did not appear to reduce cold limitation at high elevation. Instead, gas exchange and water potential from all sites indicated a prevailing effect of summer moisture stress on photosynthesis and carbon balance. Infrared heaters raised soil growing degree days (base 5 °C, p < 0.001) and August–September mean soil temperature (p < 0.001). Despite marked differences in vegetation cover and meteorological conditions across sites, volumetric soil moisture content (θ) at 5–10 cm below 0.16 and 0.08 m3 m−3 consistently corresponded with moderate and severe indications of drought stress in midday stem water potential, stomatal conductance, photosynthesis, and respiration. Seedling survival was greater in watered plots than in heated plots (p = 0.01), and negatively related to soil growing degree days and duration of exposure to θ < 0.08 m3 m−3 in a stepwise linear regression model (p < 0.0001). We concluded that seasonal moisture stress and high soil surface temperature imposed a strong limitation to limber pine seedling establishment across a broad elevation gradient, including at treeline, and that these limitations are likely to be enhanced by further climate warming.

Keywords

Limber pine Treeline Experimental warming Moisture stress 

Supplementary material

442_2012_2410_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 6183 kb)
442_2012_2410_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (298 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (JPG 297 kb)
442_2012_2410_MOESM3_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 13 kb)

References

  1. Adams HD, Guardiola-Claramonte M, Barron-Gafford GA, Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Troch PA, Huxman TE (2009) Temperature sensitivity of drought-induced tree mortality portends increased regional die-off under global-change-type drought. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:7063–7066PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkin OK, Tjoelker MG (2003) Thermal acclimation and the dynamic response of plant respiration to temperature. Trends Plant Sci 8:343–351PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atkin OK, Evans JR, Siebke K (1998) Relationship between the inhibition of leaf respiration by light and enhancement of leaf dark respiration following light treatment. Funct Plant Biol 25:437–443Google Scholar
  4. Atkin OK, Millar AH, Gardestrom P, Day DA (2000) Photosynthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and respiration in leaves of higher plants. In: Leegood RC, Thomas E, Von Caemmerer S (eds) Photosynthesis: physiology and metabolism. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 153–175Google Scholar
  5. Atkin OK, Loveys BR, Atkinson LJ, Pons TL (2006) Phenotypic plasticity and growth temperature: understanding interspecific variability. J Exp Bot 57:267–281PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bader M, van Geloof I, Rietkerk M (2007) High solar radiation hinders tree regeneration above the alpine treeline in northern Ecuador. Plant Ecol 191:33–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ball MC, Hodges VS, Laughlin GP (1991) Cold-Induced photoinhibition limits regeneration of snow gum at tree-line. Funct Ecol 5:663–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bansal S, Germino MJ (2010) Unique responses of respiration, growth, and non-structural carbohydrate storage in sink tissue of conifer seedlings to an elevation gradient at timberline. Environ Exp Bot 69:313–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Breshears DD, Huxman TE, Adams HD, Zou CB, Davison JE (2008) Vegetation synchronously leans upslope as climate warms. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:11591–11592PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brodersen CR, Germino MJ, Smith WK (2006) Photosynthesis during an episodic drought in Abies lasiocarpa and Picea engelmannii across an alpine treeline. Arct Antarct Alp Res 38:34–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cui M, Smith WK (1991) Photosynthesis, water relations and mortality in Abies lasiocarpa seedlings during natural establishment. Tree Physiol 8:37–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Danby RK, Hik DS (2007) Responses of white spruce (Picea glauca) to experimental warming at a subarctic alpine treeline. Glob Change Biol 13:437–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Darrouzet-Nardi A (2010) Landscape Heterogeneity of Differently Aged Soil Organic Matter Constituents at the Forest–Alpine Tundra Ecotone, Niwot Ridge, Colorado, U.S.A. Arct Antarct Alp Res 42:179–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Doak DF, Morris WF (2010) Demographic compensation and tipping points in climate-induced range shifts. Nature 467:959–962PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Engler R, Randin CF, Thuiller W, Dullinger S, Zimmermann NE, AraÚJo MB, Pearman PB, Le Lay G, Piedallu C, Albert CH, Choler P, Coldea G, De Lamo X, DirnbÖCk T, GÉGout JC, GÓMez-GarcÍA D, Grytnes J-A, Heegaard E, HØIstad F, NoguÉS-Bravo D, Normand S, PuŞCaŞ M, SebastiÀ M-T, Stanisci A, Theurillat J-P, Trivedi M-R, Vittoz P, Guisan A (2011) 21st century climate change threatens mountain flora unequally across Europe. Glob Change Biol 17:2330–2341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fischer DG, Kolb TE, DeWald LE (2002) Changes in whole-tree water relations during ontogeny of Pinus flexilis and Pinus ponderosa in a high-elevation meadow. Tree Physiol 22:675–685PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flexas J, Bota J, Galmés J, Medrano H, Ribas-Carbó M (2006) Keeping a positive carbon balance under adverse conditions: responses of photosynthesis and respiration to water stress. Physiol Plant 127:343–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Germino MJ, Smith WK (1999) Sky exposure, crown architecture, and low-temperature photoinhibition in conifer seedlings at alpine treeline. Plant Cell Environ 22:407–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Germino MJ, Smith WK, Resor AC (2002) Conifer seedling distribution and survival in an alpine-treeline ecotone. Plant Ecol 162:157–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giorgi F, Hurrell JW, Marinucci MR, Beniston M (1997) Elevation dependency of the surface climate change signal: a model study. J Clim 10:288–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Greenland D (1989) The Climate of Niwot Ridge, Front Range, Colorado, USA Arct Alp Res 21:380–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hadley JL, Smith WK (1987) Influence of krummholz mat microclimate on needle physiology and survival. Oecologia 73:82–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harte J, Torn MS, Chang F-R, Feifarek B, Kinzig AP, Shaw R, Shen K (1995) Global Warming and Soil Microclimate: results from a Meadow-Warming Experiment. Ecol Appl 5:132–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hoch G, Körner C (2009) Growth and carbon relations of tree line forming conifers at constant vs. variable low temperatures. J Ecol 97:57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Johnson DM, Smith WK (2007) Limitations to photosynthetic carbon gain in timberline Abies lasiocarpa seedlings during prolonged drought. Can J For Res 37:568–579CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Johnson DM, Germino MJ, Smith WK (2004) Abiotic factors limiting photosynthesis in Abies lasiocarpa and Picea engelmannii seedlings below and above the alpine timberline. Tree Physiol 24:377–386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kelly AE, Goulden ML (2008) Rapid shifts in plant distribution with recent climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:11823–11826PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kimball BA, Conley MM, Wang S, Lin X, Luo C, Morgan J, Smith D (2008) Infrared heater arrays for warming ecosystem field plots. Glob Change Biol 14:309–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kolb PF, Robberecht R (1996) High temperature and drought stress effects on survival of Pinus ponderosa seedlings. Tree Physiol 16:665–672PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Körner C, Paulsen J (2004) A world-wide study of high altitude treeline temperatures. J Biogeogr 31:713–732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lepper MG (1980) Carbon dioxide exchange in Pinus flexilis and P. strobiformis (Pinaceae). Madrono 27:17–24Google Scholar
  33. Letts MG, Nakonechny KN, Van Gaalen KE, Smith CM (2009) Physiological acclimation of Pinus flexilis to drought stress on contrasting slope aspects in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada. Can J For Res 39:629–641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Leuschner C (2000) Are high elevations in tropical mountains arid environments for plants? Ecology 81:1425–1436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lloyd AH, Fastie CL (2002) Spatial and temporal variability in the growth and climate response of treeline trees in Alaska. Clim Change 52:481–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lundquist JD, Cayan DR (2007) Surface temperature patterns in complex terrain: Daily variations and long-term change in the central Sierra Nevada, California. J Geophys Res Atmos 112:D11124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Maher EL, Germino MJ (2006) Microsite differentiation among conifer species during seedling establishment at alpine treeline. Ecoscience 13:334–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Martin M, Gavazov K, KÖRner C, HÄTtenschwiler S, Rixen C (2010) Reduced early growing season freezing resistance in alpine treeline plants under elevated atmospheric CO2. Glob Change Biol 16:1057–1070CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Maxwell K, Johnson GN (2000) Chlorophyll fluorescence—a practical guide. J Exp Bot 51:659–668PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mayr S (2007) Limits in water relations. In: Wieser G, Tansz M (eds) Trees at their upper limit: treelife limitation at the alpine timber line. Springer, Berlin, pp 145–162Google Scholar
  41. McDowell N, Pockman WT, Allen CD, Breshears DD, Cobb N, Kolb T, Plaut J, Sperry J, West A, Williams DG, Yepez EA (2008) Mechanisms of plant survival and mortality during drought: why do some plants survive while others succumb to drought? New Phytol 178:719–739PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moen J, Aune K, Edenius L, Angerbjörn A (2004). Potential effects of climate change on treeline position in the Swedish mountains. Ecol Soc 9(1):16Google Scholar
  43. Monson RK, Turnipseed AA, Sparks JP, Harley PC, Scott-Denton LE, Sparks K, Huxman TE (2002) Carbon sequestration in a high-elevation, subalpine forest. Glob Change Biol 8:459–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nedlo JE, Martin TA, Vose JM (2009) Growing season temperatures limit growth of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) seedlings across a wide geographic transect. Trees Struct Funct 23:751–759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. NWCC. (2012). “Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Water and Climate Center.” from http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov
  46. Ow LF, Griffin KL, Whitehead D, Walcroft AS, Turnbull MH (2008) Thermal acclimation of leaf respiration but not photosynthesis in Populus deltoides × nigra. New Phytol 178:123–134PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Parmesan C, Yohe G (2003) A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421:37–42PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pataki DE, Oren R, Smith WK (2000) Sap flux of co-occurring species in a western subalpine forest during seasonal soil drought. Ecology 81:2557–2566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Peet RK (1978) Forest vegetation of the Colorado Front Range: patterns of species diversity. Plant Ecol 37:65–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Petit G, Anfodillo T, Carraro V, Grani F, Carrer M (2010) Hydraulic constraints limit height growth in trees at high altitude. New Phytol 189:241–252PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reinhardt K, Castanha C, Germino MJ, Kueppers LM (2011) Ecophysiological variation in two provenances of Pinus flexilis seedlings across an elevation gradient from forest to alpine. Tree Physiol 31:615–625PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sage RF, Kubien DS (2007) The temperature response of C3 and C4 photosynthesis. Plant Cell Environ 30:1086–1106PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sage RF, Way DA, Kubien DS (2008) Rubisco, Rubisco activase, and global climate change. J Exp Bot 59:1581–1595PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith WK, Geller GN (1979) Plant transpiration at high elevations: theory, field measurements, and comparisons with desert plants. Oecologia 41:109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith WK, Young DR, Carter GA, Hadley JL, McNaughton GM (1984) Autumn stomatal closure in six conifer species of the Central Rocky Mountains. Oecologia 63:237–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Taulavuori KMJ, Taulavuori EB, Skre O, Nilsen J, Igeland B, Laine KM (2004) Dehardening of Mountain Birch (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii) ecotypes at elevated winter temperatures. New Phytol 162:427–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tjoelker MG, Oleksyn J, Lorenc-Plucinska G, Reich PB (2009) Acclimation of respiratory temperature responses in northern and southern populations of Pinus banksiana. New Phytol 181:218–229PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Miegroet H, Hysell MT, Johnson AD (2000) Soil microclimate and chemistry of spruce-fir tree islands in Northern Utah. Soil Sci Soc Am J 64:1515–1525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Walker MD, Webber PJ, Arnold EH, Ebert-May D (1994) Effects of interannual climate variation on aboveground phytomass in Alpine vegetation. Ecology 75:393–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Way DA, Sage RF (2008a) Elevated growth temperatures reduce the carbon gain of black spruce [Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.]. Glob Change Biol 14:624–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Way DA, Sage RF (2008b) Thermal acclimation of photosynthesis in black spruce [Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.]. Plant Cell Environ 31:1250–1262PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Weaver T (1980) Climates of vegetation types of the northern Rocky Mountains and adjacent plains. Am Midl Nat 103:392–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wieser G (2007a) Climate at the upper treeline. In: Wieser G, Tansz M (eds) Trees at their upper limit: treelife limitation at the alpine timber line. Springer, Berlin, pp 19–36Google Scholar
  64. Wieser G (2007b) Limitation by an lnsufficient carbon assimilation and allocation. In: Wieser G, Tansz M (eds) Trees at their upper limit: treelife limitation at the alpine timber line. Springer, Berlin, pp 79–129Google Scholar
  65. Wieser G, Oberhuber W, Walder L, Spieler D, Gruber A (2010) Photosynthetic temperature adaptation of Pinus cembra within the timberline ecotone of the Central Austrian Alps. Ann For Sci 67:201PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilmking M, Juday GP, Barber VA, Zald HSJ (2004) Recent climate warming forces contrasting growth responses of white spruce at treeline in Alaska through temperature thresholds. Glob Change Biol 10:1724–1736CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew B. Moyes
    • 1
  • Cristina Castanha
    • 2
  • Matthew J. Germino
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lara M. Kueppers
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Natural SciencesUniversity of California MercedMercedUSA
  2. 2.Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.US Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science CenterBoiseUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesIdaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA

Personalised recommendations