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Tiller population dynamics of reciprocally transplanted Eriophorum vaginatum L. ecotypes in a changing climate

Abstract

Moist tussock tundra, dominated by the sedge Eriophorum vaginatum L., covers approximately 3.36 × 108 km2 of arctic surface area along with large amounts of subarctic land area. Eriophorum vaginatum exhibits ecotypic differentiation along latitudinal gradients in Alaska. While ecotypic differentiation may be beneficial during periods of climate stability, it may be detrimental as climate changes, causing adaptational lag. Following harvest of a 30-year reciprocal transplant experiment, age-specific demographic data on E. vaginatum tillers were collected to parameterize a Leslie matrix. Yellow Taxi analysis, based on Tukey’s Jackknife, was used to determine mean pseudovalues of tiller population growth rate (\(\overline{{\phi_{i} }}\)) for four source populations of E. vaginatum tussocks that were transplanted to each of three gardens along a latitudinal gradient. Source populations responded differentially along the latitudinal gradient. Survival and daughter tiller production influenced differences seen at the mid-latitude garden, and the overall tiller population performance was generally improved by northward transplanting relative to southward transplanting. A comparison of home-source \(\overline{{\phi_{i} }}\) and away-source \(\overline{{\phi_{i} }}\) within the same transplant garden indicates no home-site advantage. Although populations were still growing when transplanted to home-sites (\(\overline{{\phi_{i} }}\) = 1.056), tiller population growth rate increased as ΔGDD became more negative relative to the home site (i.e., as tussocks were transplanted north). These results imply that populations are affected by climate gradients in a manner consistent with adaptational lag. This study documenting the response of high-latitude ecotypes to climate gradients may be an indication of the possible future effects of climate shift in more southern latitudes.

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Acknowledgments

For their hard work in and out of the field, we thank Drs. Terry Chapin and Marjan van de Weg, WVU graduate researcher Jessica Brie Turner, and undergraduate researchers Rachel Burnett, Kayla Saxon, and Hillary Harold. We would like to thank the Toolik Lake Field Station and the Arctic LTER project (NSF-DEB-1026843) for logistical support. This study was funded by the National Science Foundation (ARC-0908936).

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Correspondence to Jennifer L. Chandler.

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Chandler, J.L., McGraw, J.B., Bennington, C. et al. Tiller population dynamics of reciprocally transplanted Eriophorum vaginatum L. ecotypes in a changing climate. Popul Ecol 57, 117–126 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-014-0459-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-014-0459-9

Keywords

  • Adaptational lag
  • Climate change
  • Reciprocal transplant
  • Thermal niche
  • Weibull distribution
  • Yellow Taxi analysis