Population Ecology

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 645–656 | Cite as

Demographic effects of warming, elevated soil nitrogen and thinning on the colonization of a perennial plant

  • Elise Sylvie Gornish
Original article


Global change is causing significant modifications to native plant communities. These effects can be direct through changes in productivity, or indirect through the spread of invading species. Identifying vital traits important for individual species’ response to environmental variation could be useful for making predictions about how entire communities may respond to global change. I studied the effects of factors associated with global change on the demography of an experimentally introduced species, Pityopsis aspera. In a Florida old-field, I investigated how warming, increased soil nitrogen and thinning of the extant plant community affected survival, growth and reproduction of P. aspera using a life table response experiment. The estimated population growth rate (λ) of P. aspera was reduced by nitrogen addition, as a result of decreased fecundity. However, λ increased in response to the warming treatment, as a result of increased fecundity. In the presence of thinning, both warming and nitrogen served to increase λ as a result of an increase in the growth of young individuals. This experiment illustrates how different vital rates contribute to the population level responses of an experimentally introduced plant to warming, and nitrogen deposition. Results also show how these demographic responses may occur via indirect effects through established species. This work highlights the importance of studying interactions among temperature, soil nitrogen and demography across the entire life cycle in order to capture the complex and, often, non-additive relationships mediating global change effects.


Climate change Indirect effects Invasion LTRE Pityopsis aspera Range shift 



Countless volunteers helped in the field under less than ideal conditions, and I cannot thank them enough. I also appreciate the help of R. Weidner for all aspects of greenhouse chamber design and construction, and my dissertation committee for guidance: T. E. Miller, A. A. Winn, N. Underwood, A. Mast, J. Chanton, and J. Hellmann. Portions of this research were funded by Florida State University.

Supplementary material

10144_2014_442_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (221 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 221 kb)


  1. Angert AL (2006) Demography of central and marginal populations of Monkeyflowers (Mimulus cardinalis and M. lewisii). Ecology 97:2014–2025CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bonte D, Travis JMJ, De Clercq N, Zwertvaegher I, Lens L (2008) Thermal conditions during juvenile development affect adult dispersal in a spider. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:17000–17005CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Boulangeat I, Lavergne S, Van Es J, Garraud L, Thuiller W (2012) Niche breadth, rarity and ecological characteristics within a regional flora spanning large environmental gradients. J Biogeogr 39:204–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowers FD (1972) A biosystematic study of Heterotheca Section Pityopsis. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TNGoogle Scholar
  5. Buckley LB, Urban MC, Angilletta MJ, Crozier LG, Rissler LJ, Sears MW (2010) Can mechanism inform species’ distribution models? Ecol Lett 13:1041–1054CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Burke MJW, Grime JP (1996) An experimental study of plant community invisibility. Ecology 77:776–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caswell H (1985) The evolutionary demography of clonal organisms. In: Buss LW, Cook RE, Jackson JBC (eds) Population biology and evolution of clonal organisms. Yale University Press, London, pp 187–225Google Scholar
  8. Caswell H (2001) Matrix population models: construction, analysis and interpretation. Sinauer Associates, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  9. Chuine I, Morin X, Sonie L, Collin C, Fabrequettes J, Degueldre D, Salager J, Roy J (2012) Climate change might increase the invasion potential of the alien C4 grass Setaria parviflora (Poaceae) in the Mediterranean Basin. Diversi Distrib 18:661–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Currie DJ (2001) Projected effects of climate change on patterns of vertebrate and tree species richness in the conterminous United States. Ecosystems 4:216–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Doak DF, Gross K, Morris WF (2005) Understanding and predicting the effects of sparse data on demographic analyses. Ecology 86:1154–1163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Drenovsky RE, Richards JH (2005) Nitrogen addition increases fecundity in the desert shrub Sarcobatus vermiculatus. Oecologia 143:349–356CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dullinger S, Willner W, Plutzar C, Englisch T, Schratt-Ehrendorfer L, Moser D, Ertl S, Essl F, Niklfeld H (2012) Post-glacial migration lag restricts range filling of plants in the European Alps. Global Ecol Biogeogr 8:829–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dunnett NP, Grime JP (1999) Competition as an amplified of short-term vegetation responses to climate: an experimental test. Funct Ecol 13:388–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dyer AR, Rice KJ (1999) Effects of competition on resource availability and growth of a California bunchgrass. Ecology 80:2697–2710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ehrenfeld JG (1990) Dynamics and processes of barrier island vegetation. Rev Aquat Sci 2:437–480Google Scholar
  17. Escudero A, Somolinos RC, Olano JM, Rubio A (1999) Factors controlling the establishment of Helianthemum squamatum, an endemic gypsophyle of semi-arid Spain. J Ecol 87:290–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Galloway JN, Dentener FJ, Capone DG, Boyer EW, Howarth RW, Seitzinger SP, Asner GP, Cleveland CC, Green PA, Holland EA, Karl DM, Michael AF, Porter JH, Townsend AR, Vorosmarty CJ (2004) Nitrogen cycles: past, present, and future. Biogeochemistry 70:153–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Garcia MB, Ehrlen J (2002) Reproductive effort and herbivory timing in a perennial herb: fitness components at the individual and population levels. Am J Bot 89:1295–1302CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Gaston KJ (2003) The structure and dynamics of geographic ranges. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Gilbert B, Dillon PJ, Somers KM, Reid RA, Scott L (2008) Response of benthic macroinvertebrate communities to El Nino related drought events in six upland streams in south-central Ontario. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 65:890–905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilman SE, Urban MC, Tewksbury J, Gilchrist GW, Holt RD (2010) A framework for community interactions under climate change. Trends Ecol Evol 25:325–331CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Goldberg DE, Barton AM (1992) Patterns and consequences of interspecific competition in natural communities: a review of field experiments with plants. Am Nat 139:771–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Goldberg DE, Turkington R, Olsvig-Whittaker L, Dyer AR (2001) Density dependence in an annual plant community: variation among life history stages. Ecol Monog 71:423–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gornish ES (2013) Effects of density and fire on the vital rates and population growth of a perennial Goldenaster. AoB Plants 5:plt041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hahn PG, Dornbush ME (2012) Exotic consumers interact with exotic plants to mediate native plant survival in a Midwestern forest herb layer. Biol Invasions 14:449–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hansen A, Neilson RP, Dale VH, Flather CH, Iverson LR, Currie DJ, Shafer S, Cook R, Bartlein PJ (2001) Global change in forests: responses of species, communities, and biomes. Bioscience 51:765–779CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harrington R, Woiwod I, Sparks T (1999) Climate change and trophic interactions. Trends Ecol Evol 14:146–150CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Hartness DC (1993) Regulation of clonal growth and dynamics of Panicum virgatum (Poaceae) in tallgrass prairie: effects of neighbor removal and nutrient addition. Am J Bot 80:1114–1120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hautier Y, Niklaus PA, Hector A (2009) Competition for light causes plant biodiversity loss after eutrophication. Science 324:636–638CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Havstrom MT, Callaghan TV, Johasson S (1993) Differential growth responses of Cassiope tetragona, an arctic dwarf shrub, to environmental perturbations among three contrasting high-and sub-arctic sites. Oikos 66:389–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Holland EA, Braswell BH, Sulzman J, Lamarque J (2005) Nitrogen deposition onto the United States and Western Europe: synthesis of observations and models. Ecol Appl 15:38–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hoving H, Gilly WF, Markaida U, Benoit-Bird KJ, Brown ZW, Daniel P, Field JC, Parassenti L, Liu B, Campos B (2013) Extreme plasticity in life-history strategy allows a migratory predator (Jumbo Squid) to cope with a changing climate. Global Change Biol 19:2089–2103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Humphrey LD, Pyke DA (1998) Demographic and growth responses of a guerrilla and a phalanx perennial grass in competitive mixtures. J Ecol 86:854–865CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group I (2007) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Koop AL, Horvitz CC (2005) Projection matrix analysis of the demography of an invasive, nonnative shrub (Ardisia elliptica). Ecology 86:2661–2672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lloret F, Penuelas J, Prieto P, Llorens L, Estiarte M (2009) Plant community changes induced by experimental climate change: seedling and adult species composition. Perspect Plant Ecol 11:53–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mandle L, Ticktin T (2012) Interactions among fire, grazing, harvest and abiotic conditions shape palm demographic responses to disturbance. J Ecol 100:997–1008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Manly BFJ (1991) Randomization and Monte Carlo methods in biology. Chapman & Hall, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Marion GM, Henry GHR, Frechman DW (1997) Open-top designs for manipulating field temperature in high-latitude ecosystems. Global Change Biol 3:20–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Martinez-Ramos M, Anten NPR, Ackerly DD (2009) Defoliation and ENSO effects on vital rates of an understory tropical rain forest palm. J Ecol 97:1050–1061CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Millennuium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis of the millennium ecosystem assessment. Island Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  43. Moller AP (2008) Climate change and micro-geographic variation in laying date. Oecologia 155:845–857CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Myers RL, Ewel JJ (1990) The ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press, OrlandoGoogle Scholar
  45. Nicole F, Dahlgren JP, Vivat A, Till-Bottraud I, Ehrlen J (2011) Interdependent effects of habitat quality and climate on population growth of an endangered plant. J Ecol 99:1211–1218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Parmesan C, Matthews J (2006) Biological impacts of climate change. In: Groom MJ, Meffe GK, Carroll CR (eds) Principles of conservation biology. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, pp 333–360Google Scholar
  47. Parmesan C, Root TL, Willig MR (2000) Impacts of extreme weather and climate on terrestrial biota. Bull Am Met Soc 81:443–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Post ES, Pedersen C, Wilmers CC, Forchhammer MC (2008) Phenological sequences reveal aggregate life history response to climatic warming. Ecology 89:363–370CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. R Development Core Team (2012) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. url: (ISBN 3-900051-07-0)
  50. Reich PB (2009) Elevated CO2 reduced losses of plant diversity caused by nitrogen deposition. Science 326:1399–1402CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Sakai AK, Allendorf FW, Holt JS, Lodge DM, Molofsky J, With KA, Baughman S, Cabin RJ, Cohen JE, Ellstrand NC, McCauley DE, O’Neil P, Parker IM, Thompson JN, Weller SG (2001) The population biology of invasive species. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 32:305–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shaw MR, Zavaleta ES, Chiariello NR, Cleland EE, Mooney HA, Field CB (2002) Grassland responses to global environmental changes suppressed by elevated CO2. Science 298:1987–1990CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Shea K, Jongejans E, Skarpaas O, Kelly D, Sheppard AW (2010) Optimal management strategies to control local population growth or population spread may not be the same. Ecol Appl 20:1148–1161CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Simpson RJ (1986) Translocation and metabolism of nitrogen: whole plant aspects. In: Lambers H, Neeyeson JJ, Stulen I (eds) Fundamental, ecological and agricultural aspects of nitrogen metabolism in higher plants. Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, pp 71–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sletvold N, Dahlgren JP, Oien D, Moen A, Ehrlen J (2013) Climate warming alters effects of management on population viability of threatened species: results from a 30-year experimental study on a rare orchid. Global Change Biol 19:2729–2738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sousa LL, Seabra R, Wethey DS, Xavier R, Queiroz N, Zenboudji S, Lima F (2012) Fate of a climate-driven colonization: demography of newly established populations of the limpet Patella rustica Linnaeus, 1758, in northern Portugal. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 438:68–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Takenaka A, Washitani I, Kuramoto N, Inoue K (1996) Life history and demographic features of Aster kantoensis, an endangered local endemic of floodplains. Biol Conserv 78:345–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Theoharides KA, Dukes JS (2007) Plant invasion across space and time: factors affecting nonindigenous species success during four stages of invasion. New Phytol 176:256–273CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Verlinden M, Nijs I (2010) Alien plant species favoured over congeneric natives under experimental climate warming in temperate Belgian climate. Biol Invasions 12:2777–2787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Williams AL, Wills KE, Janes JK, Schoor JKV, Newton PCD, Hovenden MJ (2007) Warming and free-air CO2 enrichment alter demographics in four co-occuring grassland species. New Phytol 176:365–374CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Wisdom MJ, Mills LS, Doak DF (2000) Life stage simulation analysis: estimating vital-rate effects on population growth for conservation. Ecology 81:628–641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Woodhams DC, Akford RA, Briggs CJ, Johnson M, Rollins-Smith LA (2008) Life history trade offs include disease in changing climates: strategies of an amphibian pathogen. Ecology 89:1627–1639CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Wu ZT, Dijkstra P, Koch GW, Penuelas J, Hungate BA (2011) Responses of terrestrial ecosystems to temperature and precipitation change: a meta-analysis of experimental manipulation. Global Change Biol 17:927–942CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.University of California, DavisDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations