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Title: Seedbed not rescue effect buffer the role of extreme precipitation on temperate forest regeneration
Abstract

Alterations in global climate via extreme precipitation will have broadscale implications on ecosystem functioning. The increased frequency of drought, coupled with heavy, episodic rainfall are likely to generate impacts on biotic and abiotic processes across aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Despite the demonstrated shifts in global precipitation, less is known how extreme precipitation interacts with biophysical factors to control future demographic processes, especially those sensitive to climate extremes such as organismal recruitment and survival. We utilized a field‐based precipitation manipulation experiment in 0.1 ha forest canopy openings to test future climate scenarios characterized by extreme precipitation on temperate tree seedling survival. The effects of planting seedbeds (undisturbed leaf litter/organic material vs. scarified, exposed mineral soils), seedling ontogeny, species, and functional traits were examined against four statistically defined precipitation scenarios. Results indicated that seedlings grown within precipitation treatments characterized by heavy, episodic rainfall preceded by prolonged drying responded similarly to drought treatments lacking episodic inputs. Moreover, among all treatment conditions tested, scarified seedbeds most strongly affected seedling survivorship (odds ratio 6.9). Compared with any precipitation treatment, the effect size (predicted probabilities) of the seedbed was more than twice as important in controlling seedling survivorship. However, the interaction between precipitation and seedbed resulted in a 27.9% improvement in survivorship for moisture‐sensitive species. Seedling sensitivity to moisture was variable among species, and most closely linked with functional traits such as seed mass. For instance, under dry moisture regimes, survivorship increased linearly with seed mass (log transformed; adjustedR2 = 0.72,p < 0.001), yet no relationship was apparent under wet moisture regimes. Although precipitation influenced survival, extreme rainfall events were not enough to offset moisture deficits nor provide a rescue effect under drought conditions. The relationships reported here highlight the importance of plant seedbeds and species (e.g., functional traits) as edaphic and biotic controls that modify the influence of extreme future precipitation on seedling survival in temperate forests. Finally, we demonstrated the biophysical factors that were most influential to early forest development and that may override the negative effects of increasingly variable precipitation. This work contributes to refinements of species distribution models and can inform reforestation strategies intended to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem function under increasing climate extremes.

 
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Award ID(s):
1920908
NSF-PAR ID:
10391946
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Ecology
Volume:
104
Issue:
3
ISSN:
0012-9658
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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