Repercussions of Simulated Climate Change on the Diversity of Woody-Recruit Bank in a Mediterranean-type Ecosystem
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Extreme climatic events have the potential to affect plant communities around the world, and especially in the Mediterranean basin, where the frequency of milder and drier summers is expected to be altered under a global-change scenario. We experimentally investigated the effect of three contrasting climatic scenarios on the diversity and abundance of the natural woody-recruit bank among three characteristic habitats in a Mediterranean-type ecosystem: forest, shrubland, and bare soil. The climatic scenarios were dry summers (30% summer rainfall reduction), wet summers (simulating summer storms), and current climatic conditions (control). Seedling emergence and survival after the first summer was recorded during 4 consecutive years. The wet summer boosted abundance and diversity at emergence and summer survival, rendering the highest Shannon H′ index. By contrast, the dry summer had no effect on emergence, although survival tended to decline. Nonetheless, the habitat had a key role, bare soil showing almost null recruitment whatever the climatic scenario, and forest keeping the highest diversity in all of them. Our results show that recruit-bank density and diversity depends heavily on extreme climatic events. Community dynamics will depend not only on increased drought but also on the balance between dry and wet years.
Key wordsabundance climatic variability diversity drought extreme events recruitment
We thank the Consejería de Medio Ambiente (Andalusian Government) and the Direction of the Sierra Nevada National Park for facilities and support to carry out the experiment. We also thank Nacho Villegas for invaluable field assistance, and David Nesbitt for English checking. This study was supported by the coordinated Spanish MEC Project DINAMED (CGL2005-05830-C03) and GESBOME (P06-RNM-1890) from the Excellence Research Programme of the Andalusian Government, and by a grant FPI-MEC (BES-2006-13562) to L.M. This research is part of the GLOBIMED network on forest research (www.globimed.net/).
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