skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Ackerly, David D."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Climate change is driving widespread changes in ecological communities. Warming temperatures often shift community composition toward more heat-tolerant taxa. The factors influencing the rate of this “thermophilization” process remain unclear. Using 10-y census data from an extensive forest plot network, we show that mature tree communities of the western United States have undergone thermophilization. The mean magnitude of climate warming over the 10-y study interval was 0.32 °C, whereas the mean magnitude of thermophilization was 0.039 °C. Differential tree mortality was the strongest demographic driver of thermophilization, rather than growth or recruitment. Thermophilization rates are associated with recent changes in temperature and hydrologic variables, as well as topography and disturbance, with insect damage showing the strongest standardized effect on thermophilization rates. On average, thermophilization occurred more rapidly on cool, north-facing hillslopes. Our results demonstrate that warming temperatures are outpacing the composition of western US forest tree communities, and that climate change may erode biodiversity patterns structured by topographic variation.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 2, 2024
  2. Wind disperses the pollen and seeds of many plants, but little is known about whether and how it shapes large-scale landscape genetic patterns. We address this question by a synthesis and reanalysis of genetic data from more than 1,900 populations of 97 tree and shrub species around the world, using a newly developed framework for modeling long-term landscape connectivity by wind currents. We show that wind shapes three independent aspects of landscape genetics in plants with wind pollination or seed dispersal: populations linked by stronger winds are more genetically similar, populations linked by directionally imbalanced winds exhibit asymmetric gene flow ratios, and downwind populations have higher genetic diversity. For each of these distinct hypotheses, partial correlations between the respective wind and genetic metrics (controlling for distance and climate) are positive for a significant majority of wind-dispersed or wind-pollinated genetic data sets and increase significantly across functional groups expected to be increasingly influenced by wind. Together, these results indicate that the geography of both wind strength and wind direction play important roles in shaping large-scale genetic patterns across the world’s forests. These findings have implications for various aspects of basic plant ecology and evolution, as well as the response of biodiversity to future global change.

    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Quantitative knowledge of xylem physical tolerance limits to dehydration is essential to understanding plant drought tolerance but is lacking in many long-vessel angiosperms. We examine the hypothesis that a fundamental association between sustained xylem water transport and downstream tissue function should select for xylem that avoids embolism in long-vessel trees by quantifying xylem capacity to withstand air entry of western North American oaks ( Quercus spp.). Optical visualization showed that 50% of embolism occurs at water potentials below −2.7 MPa in all 19 species, and −6.6 MPa in the most resistant species. By mapping the evolution of xylem vulnerability to embolism onto a fossil-dated phylogeny of the western North American oaks, we found large differences between clades (sections) while closely related species within each clade vary little in their capacity to withstand air entry. Phylogenetic conservatism in xylem physical tolerance, together with a significant correlation between species distributions along rainfall gradients and their dehydration tolerance, suggests that closely related species occupy similar climatic niches and that species' geographic ranges may have shifted along aridity gradients in accordance with their physical tolerance. Such trends, coupled with evolutionary associations between capacity to withstand xylem embolism and other hydraulic-related traits, yield wide margins of safety against embolism in oaks from diverse habitats. Evolved responses of the vascular system to aridity support the embolism avoidance hypothesis and reveal the importance of quantifying plant capacity to withstand xylem embolism for understanding function and biogeography of some of the Northern Hemisphere’s most ecologically and economically important plants. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The availability of sufficient and diverse resources across time is important for maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. In this study, we examine the potential for variation in environmental conditions across topographic gradients to extend floral resource timing. Flowering time on a landscape may vary across topography due to differences in abiotic factors, species turnover, or genotypic differences. However, the extent to which this variation in phenology affects overall flowering duration on a landscape, and the components of diversity that influence flowering duration, are unexplored. We investigate whether differences in flowering time due to topography yield an overall extension in duration of flowering resources in a northern California grassland. We recorded flowering time of pollinator resource species across four successive spring growing seasons (2015–2018) on paired north and south aspects. Flowering time differences were evaluated both at the community level and within species present on both paired aspects. The role of plasticity was examined in an experimental case study using genotypes ofLasthenia gracilis. We found that aspect is a strong determinant of phenology, with earlier flowering on warmer south‐facing slopes. Aspect differences resulted in complementarity in timing of flowering resources across sites, as aspects that started flowering earlier also ended earlier. Complementarity between north and south aspects served to extend the flowering time of pollinator resources by an average of 4–8 days (8%–15%), depending on the year. This extension can be attributed to both within‐species responses to aspect differences and species turnover. Flowering ofL. gracilisgenotypes was distinct across aspects, demonstrating that plasticity can drive the extension of flowering duration. Our findings indicate that heterogeneous topography can extend overall flowering time of pollinator resources, which may support pollinator biodiversity. Extension was most pronounced at the community level, which incorporates species turnover as well as plastic and genotypic differences within species.

    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    We quantified fire severity in the Tubbs Fire (Sonoma Co., CA, October 2017) across different vegetation types, and post-fire mortality and regeneration of tree species in permanent plots at the Pepperwood Preserve. The fire burned 14,895 ha, with > 25% in both medium and high severity. Chaparral and Pinus attenuata stands mostly burned at high severity, while other vegetation types experienced a fairly even distribution of fire severity. The fire killed 50% of saplings (dbh < 1 cm) and 27% of trees (dbh ≥ 1 cm), with higher mortality in high severity patches. Quercus agrifolia, Q. kelloggii, Arbutus menziesii and Umbellularia californica exhibited very high levels of topkill combined with basal resprouting. Pseudotsuga menziesii, which lacks resprouting ability, exhibited high mortality, especially in saplings at high severity. The results provide a baseline to examine potential vegetation change due to high-severity fire, especially in high-severity stands of P. menziesii. 
    more » « less
  6. Natural selection is an important driver of genetic and phenotypic differentiation between species. For species in which potential gene flow is high but realized gene flow is low, adaptation via natural selection may be a particularly important force maintaining species. For a recent radiation of New World desert shrubs (Encelia: Asteraceae), we use fine-scale geographic sampling and population genomics to determine patterns of gene flow across two hybrid zones formed between two independent pairs of species with parapatric distributions. After finding evidence for extremely strong selection at both hybrid zones, we use a combination of field experiments, high-resolution imaging, and physiological measurements to determine the ecological basis for selection at one of the hybrid zones. Our results identify multiple ecological mechanisms of selection (drought, salinity, herbivory, and burial) that together are sufficient to maintain species boundaries despite high rates of hybridization. Given that multiple pairs ofEnceliaspecies hybridize at ecologically divergent parapatric boundaries, such mechanisms may maintain species boundaries throughoutEncelia.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    Observed ecological responses to climate change are highly individualistic across species and locations, and understanding the drivers of this variability is essential for management and conservation efforts. While it is clear that differences in exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity all contribute to heterogeneity in climate change vulnerability, predicting these features at macroecological scales remains a critical challenge. We explore multiple drivers of heterogeneous vulnerability across the distributions of 96 vegetation types of the ecologically diverse western US, using data on observed climate trends from 1948 to 2014 to highlight emerging patterns of change. We ask three novel questions about factors potentially shaping vulnerability across the region: (a) How does sensitivity to different climate variables vary geographically and across vegetation classes? (b) How do multivariate climate exposure patterns interact with these sensitivities to shape vulnerability patterns? (c) How different are these vulnerability patterns according to three widely implemented vulnerability paradigms—niche novelty (decline in modeled suitability), temporal novelty (standardized anomaly), and spatial novelty (inbound climate velocity)—each of which uses a distinct frame of reference to quantify climate departure? We propose that considering these three novelty paradigms in combination could help improve our understanding and prediction of heterogeneous climate change responses, and we discuss the distinct climate adaptation strategies connected with different combinations of high and low novelty across the three metrics. Our results reveal a diverse mosaic of climate change vulnerability signatures across the region's plant communities. Each of the above factors contributes strongly to this heterogeneity: climate variable sensitivity exhibits clear patterns across vegetation types, multivariate climate change data reveal highly diverse exposure signatures across locations, and the three novelty paradigms diverge widely in their climate change vulnerability predictions. Together, these results shed light on potential drivers of individualistic climate change responses and may help to inform effective management strategies.

    more » « less
  8. Species‐specific shifts in phenology (timing of periodic life cycle events) are occurring with climate change and are already disrupting interactions within and among trophic levels. Phenological phase duration (e.g. beginning to end of flowering) and complementarity (patterns of nonoverlap), and their responses to changing conditions, will be important determinants of species' adaptive capacity to these shifts. Evidence indicates that extension of phenological duration of mutualistic partners could buffer negative impacts that occur with phenological shifts. Therefore, we suggest that techniques to extend the length of phenological duration will contribute to management of systems experiencing phenological asynchrony. Techniques ofphenological phase extensiondiscussed include the role of abiotic heterogeneity, genetic and species diversity, and alteration of population timing.We explore these approaches with the goal of creating a framework to build adaptive capacity and address phenological asynchrony in plant–animal mutualisms under climate change.

    more » « less
  9. Abstract

    The expectations of polar or upslope distributional shifts of species ranges in response to warming climate conditions have been recently questioned. Diverse responses of different life stages to changing temperature and moisture regimes may alter these predicted range dynamics. Furthermore, the climate driver(s) influencing demographic rates, and the contribution of each demographic rate to population growth rate (λ), may shift across a species range. We investigated these demographic effects by experimentally manipulating climate and measuring responses of λ in nine populations spanning the elevation range of an alpine plant (Ivesia lycopodioides). Populations exhibited stable growth rates (λ ~ 1) under naturally wet conditions and declining rates (λ < 1) under naturally dry conditions. However, opposing vital rate responses to experimental heating and watering lead to negligible or negative effects on population stability. These findings indicate that life stage–specific responses to changing climate can disrupt the current relationships between population stability and climate across species ranges.

    more » « less