Climate warming alters effects of management on population viability of threatened species: results from a 30-year experimental study on a rare orchid


Correspondence: Nina Sletvold, tel. + 46 18 471 28 71, fax + 46 18 55 34 19, e-mail:


Climate change is expected to influence the viability of populations both directly and indirectly, via species interactions. The effects of large-scale climate change are also likely to interact with local habitat conditions. Management actions designed to preserve threatened species therefore need to adapt both to the prevailing climate and local conditions. Yet, few studies have separated the direct and indirect effects of climatic variables on the viability of local populations and discussed the implications for optimal management. We used 30 years of demographic data to estimate the simultaneous effects of management practice and among-year variation in four climatic variables on individual survival, growth and fecundity in one coastal and one inland population of the perennial orchid Dactylorhiza lapponica in Norway. Current management, mowing, is expected to reduce competitive interactions. Statistical models of how climate and management practice influenced vital rates were incorporated into matrix population models to quantify effects on population growth rate. Effects of climate differed between mown and control plots in both populations. In particular, population growth rate increased more strongly with summer temperature in mown plots than in control plots. Population growth rate declined with spring temperature in the inland population, and with precipitation in the coastal population, and the decline was stronger in control plots in both populations. These results illustrate that both direct and indirect effects of climate change are important for population viability and that net effects depend both on local abiotic conditions and on biotic conditions in terms of management practice and intensity of competition. The results also show that effects of management practices influencing competitive interactions can strongly depend on climatic factors. We conclude that interactions between climate and management should be considered to reliably predict future population viability and optimize conservation actions.