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Spread of North American wind-dispersed trees in future environments

Authors

  • Ran Nathan,

    Corresponding author
    1. Movement Ecology Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
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  • Nir Horvitz,

    1. Movement Ecology Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
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  • Yanping He,

    1. School of Earth and Ocean Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8W 3P6, Canada
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  • Anna Kuparinen,

    1. Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki FI-00014, Finland
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  • Frank M. Schurr,

    1. Plant Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Maulbeerallee 2, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
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  • Gabriel G. Katul

    1. Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, Box 90328, Durham, NC 27708-0328, USA
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E-mail: rnathan@cc.huji.ac.il

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 211–219

Abstract

Despite ample research, understanding plant spread and predicting their ability to track projected climate changes remain a formidable challenge to be confronted. We modelled the spread of North American wind-dispersed trees in current and future (c. 2060) conditions, accounting for variation in 10 key dispersal, demographic and environmental factors affecting population spread. Predicted spread rates vary substantially among 12 study species, primarily due to inter-specific variation in maturation age, fecundity and seed terminal velocity. Future spread is predicted to be faster if atmospheric CO2 enrichment would increase fecundity and advance maturation, irrespective of the projected changes in mean surface windspeed. Yet, for only a few species, predicted wind-driven spread will match future climate changes, conditioned on seed abscission occurring only in strong winds and environmental conditions favouring high survival of the farthest-dispersed seeds. Because such conditions are unlikely, North American wind-dispersed trees are expected to lag behind the projected climate range shift.

Ancillary