Interdependent effects of habitat quality and climate on population growth of an endangered plant

Authors


Correspondence author. E-mail: johan.dahlgren@botan.su.se

Summary

1. To predict the viability of populations, it is essential to clarify how performance depends both on large-scale environmental changes, such as climate warming, and on the local habitat. However, in spite of their potential importance, effects of interactions between large-scale environmental changes and the local environment on population viability have rarely been examined.

2. We investigated how population dynamics of the endangered alpine plant Dracocephalum austriacum depend on local habitat quality and climatic variation, as well as how effects of climate depend on local habitat. We used lasso regression shrinkage and integral projection models to identify effects on vital rates and population growth rates in seven populations over seven annual transitions.

3. Populations on steeper slopes had lower survival and stochastic population growth rate than populations on more gentle slopes. In years with low spring temperatures and high summer temperatures, survival and population growth rate were lower. In addition, the negative effects of high summer temperatures did depend on local habitat quality, being more negative in populations on steeper slopes.

4. Combining the net positive effects of high spring temperature and the net negative effects of high summer temperature on plant vital rates with predicted climate change over the next 30 years suggested that effects on D. austriacum would be relatively small.

5.Synthesis. Our results show that different aspects of a warmer climate may have opposing effects on populations, and that climatic effects may depend on local habitat quality. Such interactive effects should be accounted for when determining effects of large-scale environmental changes on population and community dynamics.

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