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Title: Assisted migration experiments along a distance/elevation gradient show limits to supporting home site communities
We addressed the hypothesis that intraspecific genetic variation in plant traits from different sites along a distance/elevation gradient would influence the communities they support when grown at a new site. Answers to this hypothesis are important when considering the community consequences of assisted migration under climate change; i.e., if you build it will they come?. We surveyed arthropod communities occurring on the foundation riparian tree species Populus angustifolia along a distance/elevation gradient and in a common garden where trees from along the gradient were planted 20–22 years earlier. Three major patterns were found: 1) In the wild, arthropod community composition changed significantly. Trees at the lower elevation site supported up to 58% greater arthropod abundance and 26% greater species richness than more distant, high elevation trees. 2) Trees grown in a common garden sourced from the same locations along the gradient, supported arthropod communities more similar to their corresponding wild trees, but the similarity declined with transfer distance and elevation. 3) Of five functional traits examined, leaf area, a trait under genetic control that decreases at higher elevations, is correlated with differences in arthropod species richness and abundance. Our results suggest that genetic differences in functional traits are stronger drivers of arthropod community composition than phenotypic plasticity of plant traits due to environmental factors. We also show that variation in leaf area is maintained and has similar effects at the community level while controlling for environment. These results demonstrate how genetically based traits vary across natural gradients and have community-level effects that are maintained, in part, when they are used in assisted migration. Furthermore, optimal transfer distances for plants suffering from climate change may not be the same as optimal transfer distances for their dependent communities.  more » « less
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Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Ahmed, Ferdous
Date Published:
Journal Name:
PLOS Climate
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Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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