Get access

Experimental evidence of reduced diversity of seedlings due to climate modification in a Mediterranean-type community

Authors

  • Francisco Lloret,

    1. CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications)-Unitat d'Ecologia, Departament Biologia Animal, Biologia Vegetal i Ecologia, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain,
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Josep Peñuelas,

    1. Unitat Ecofisiologia CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications), Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Marc Estiarte

    1. Unitat Ecofisiologia CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF (Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications), Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
    Search for more papers by this author

Francisco Lloret, fax 34 93 5811312, e-mail: Franciso.Lloret@uab.es

Abstract

We are still lacking in experimental evidence of the effects of climate change on the richness of plant species under field conditions. We report a decrease in the species richness of recruited seedlings in a Mediterranean shrubland in experimentally induced drought and warming over 4 consecutive years. Drought decreased the number of emerging seedlings and their respective species richness. Warming also decreased seedling species richness, but it did not affect the number of emerging seedlings. Species that produce fewer recruits are more likely to disappear in drier or warmer scenarios. However, when the effect of induced climate treatment was greatest, the more abundant species in control stands were not necessarily the ones least affected by treatment; in other words, species-idiosyncratic responses may occur. These results show that demographic processes are sensitive to minor climate changes, with probable consequences on the diversity and structure of the future plant communities.

Ancillary