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  1. Life-history traits, which are physical traits or behaviours that affect growth, survivorship and reproduction, could play an important role in how well organisms respond to environmental change. By looking for trait-based responses within groups, we can gain a mechanistic understanding of why environmental change might favour or penalize certain species over others. We monitored the abundance of at least 154 bee species for 8 consecutive years in a subalpine region of the Rocky Mountains to ask whether bees respond differently to changes in abiotic conditions based on their life-history traits. We found that comb-building cavity nesters and larger bodied bees declined in relative abundance with increasing temperatures, while smaller, soil-nesting bees increased. Further, bees with narrower diet breadths increased in relative abundance with decreased rainfall. Finally, reduced snowpack was associated with reduced relative abundance of bees that overwintered as prepupae whereas bees that overwintered as adults increased in relative abundance, suggesting that overwintering conditions might affect body size, lipid content and overwintering survival. Taken together, our results show how climate change may reshape bee pollinator communities, with bees with certain traits increasing in abundance and others declining, potentially leading to novel plant–pollinator interactions and changes in plant reproduction.
  2. Abstract

    Fungal symbionts can buffer plants from environmental extremes and may affect host capacities to acclimate, adapt, or redistribute under environmental change; however, the distributions of fungal symbionts along abiotic gradients are poorly described. Fungal mutualists should be the most beneficial in abiotically stressful environments, and the structure of networks of plant-fungal interactions likely shift along gradients, even when fungal community composition does not track environmental stress. We sampled 634 unique combinations of fungal endophytes and mycorrhizal fungi, grass species identities, and sampling locations from 66 sites across six replicate altitudinal gradients in the western Colorado Rocky Mountains. The diversity and composition of leaf endophytic, root endophytic, and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal guilds and the overall abundance of fungal functional groups (pathogens, saprotrophs, mutualists) tracked grass host identity more closely than elevation. Network structures of root endophytes become more nested and less specialized at higher elevations, but network structures of other fungal guilds did not vary with elevation. Overall, grass species identity had overriding influence on the diversity and composition of above- and belowground fungal endophytes and AM fungi, despite large environmental variation. Therefore, in our system climate change may rarely directly affect fungal symbionts. Instead, fungal symbiont distributions willmore »most likely track the range dynamics of host grasses.

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  3. Despite colonizing nearly every plant on Earth, foliar fungal symbionts have received little attention in studies on the biogeography of host-associated microbes. Evidence from regional scale studies suggests that foliar fungal symbiont distributions are influenced both by plant hosts and environmental variation in climate and soil resources. However, previous surveys have focused on either one plant host across an environmental gradient or one gradient and multiple plant hosts, making it difficult to disentangle the influence of host identity from the influence of the environment on foliar endophyte communities. We used a culture-based approach to survey fungal symbiont composition in the leaves of nine C3 grass species along replicated elevation gradients in grasslands of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. In these ecosystems, the taxonomic richness and composition of foliar fungal symbionts were mostly structured by the taxonomic identity of the plant host rather than by variation in climate. Plant traits related to size (height and leaf length) were the best predictors of foliar fungal symbiont composition and diversity, and composition did not vary predictably with plant evolutionary history. The largest plants had the most diverse and distinctive fungal communities. These results suggest that across the ~ 300 m elevation range that we sampled,more »foliar fungal symbionts may indirectly experience climate change by tracking the shifting distributions of plant hosts rather than tracking climate directly.« less