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  1. Abstract

    Warming shifts the thermal optimum of net photosynthesis (ToptA) to higher temperatures. However, our knowledge of this shift is mainly derived from seedlings grown in greenhouses under ambient atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions. It is unclear whether shifts inToptAof field-grown trees will keep pace with the temperatures predicted for the 21stcentury under elevated atmospheric CO2concentrations. Here, using a whole-ecosystem warming controlled experiment under either ambient or elevated CO2levels, we show thatToptAof mature boreal conifers increased with warming. However, shifts inToptAdid not keep pace with warming asToptAonly increased by 0.26–0.35 °C per 1 °C of warming. Net photosynthetic rates estimated at the mean growth temperature increased with warming in elevated CO2spruce, while remaining constant in ambient CO2spruce and in both ambient CO2and elevated CO2tamarack with warming. Although shifts inToptAof these two species are insufficient to keep pace with warming, these boreal conifers can thermally acclimate photosynthesis to maintain carbon uptake in future air temperatures.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. The interaction networks formed by ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) and their tree hosts, which are important to both forest recruitment and ecosystem carbon and nutrient retention, may be particularly susceptible to climate change at the boreal–temperate forest ecotone where environmental conditions are changing rapidly. Here, we quantified the compositional and functional trait responses of EMF communities and their interaction networks with two boreal (Pinus banksianaandBetula papyrifera) and two temperate (Pinus strobusandQuercus macrocarpa) hosts to a factorial combination of experimentally elevated temperatures and reduced rainfall in a long-term open-air field experiment. The study was conducted at the B4WarmED (Boreal Forest Warming at an Ecotone in Danger) experiment in Minnesota, USA, where infrared lamps and buried heating cables elevate temperatures (ambient, +3.1 °C) and rain-out shelters reduce growing season precipitation (ambient, ~30% reduction). EMF communities were characterized and interaction networks inferred from metabarcoding of fungal-colonized root tips. Warming and rainfall reduction significantly altered EMF community composition, leading to an increase in the relative abundance of EMF with contact-short distance exploration types. These compositional changes, which likely limited the capacity for mycelial connections between trees, corresponded with shifts from highly redundant EMF interaction networks under ambient conditions to less redundant (more specialized) networks. Further, the observed changes in EMF communities and interaction networks were correlated with changes in soil moisture and host photosynthesis. Collectively, these results indicate that the projected changes in climate will likely lead to significant shifts in the traits, structure, and integrity of EMF communities as well as their interaction networks in forest ecosystems at the boreal–temperate ecotone.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 22, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Tree planting is increasingly being adopted as a strategy to address global change, including mitigation, adaptation, and restoration. Although reforestation has long been central to forest management, the desired outcomes of traditional and emerging tree-planting strategies face barriers linked to a lack of ecological diversity in forest nurseries. In the present article, we outline how insufficient diversity in nursery seedlings among species, genotypes, and stock types has impeded and will continue to hinder the implementation of diverse ecological or climate-suitable planting targets, now and into the future. To support this, we demonstrate disparities in seedling diversity among nursery inventories, focusing on the northern United States. To overcome these challenges, we recommend avenues for improving policy and financing, informational resources and training, and research and monitoring. Absent these advances, current seedling production and practices will fall short of ambitious tree-planting goals proposed for forest restoration and global change mitigation and adaptation.

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  4. null (Ed.)
  5. Niinemets, Ülo (Ed.)
    Abstract High latitude forests cope with considerable variation in moisture and temperature at multiple temporal scales. To assess how their photosynthetic physiology responds to short- and long-term temperature variation, we measured photosynthetic capacity for four tree species growing in an open-air experiment in the boreal-temperate ecotone `Boreal Forest Warming at an Ecotone in Danger' (B4WarmED). The experiment factorially manipulated temperature above- and below-ground (ambient, +3.2 °C) and summer rainfall (ambient, 40% removal). We measured A/Ci curves at 18, 25 and 32 °C for individuals of two boreal (Pinus banksiana Lamb., Betula papyrifera Marsh.) and two temperate species (Pinus strobus L., Acer rubrum L.) experiencing the long-term warming and/or reduced-rainfall conditions induced by our experimental treatments. We calculated the apparent photosynthetic capacity descriptors VCmax,Ci and Jmax,Ci and their ratio for each measurement temperate. We hypothesized that (i) VCmax,Ci and Jmax,Ci would be down-regulated in plants experiencing longer term (e.g., weeks to months) warming and reduced rainfall (i.e., have lower values at a given measurement temperature), as is sometimes found in the literature, and that (ii) plants growing at warmer temperatures or from warmer ranges would show greater sensitivity (steeper slope) to short-term (minutes to hours) temperature variation. Neither hypothesis was supported as a general trend across the four species, as there was not a significant main effect (across species) of either warming or rainfall reduction on VCmax,Ci and Jmax,Ci. All species markedly increased VCmax,Ci and Jmax,Ci (and decreased their ratio) with short-term increases in temperature (i.e., contrasting values at 18, 25 and 32 °C), and those responses were independent of long-term treatments and did not differ among species. The Jmax,Ci:VCmax,Ci ratio was, however, significantly lower across species in warmed and reduced rainfall treatments. Collectively, these results suggest that boreal trees possess considerable short-term plasticity that may allow homeostasis of VCmax,Ci and Jmax,Ci to a longer term temperature treatment. Our results also caution against extrapolating results obtained under controlled and markedly contrasting temperature treatments to responses of photosynthetic parameters to more modest temperature changes expected in the near-term with climate warming in field conditions. 
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  6. Abstract Background and Aims Warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns are expected to continue to occur as the climate changes. How these changes will impact the flowering phenology of herbaceous perennials in northern forests is poorly understood but could have consequences for forest functioning and species interactions. Here, we examine the flowering phenology responses of five herbaceous perennials to experimental warming and reduced summer rainfall over 3 years. Methods This study is part of the B4WarmED experiment located at two sites in northern Minnesota, USA. Three levels of warming (ambient, +1.6 °C and +3.1 °C) were crossed with two rainfall manipulations (ambient and 27 % reduced growing season rainfall). Key Results We observed species-specific responses to the experimental treatments. Warming alone advanced flowering for four species. Most notably, the two autumn blooming species showed the strongest advance of flowering to warming. Reduced rainfall alone advanced flowering for one autumn blooming species and delayed flowering for the other, with no significant impact on the three early blooming species. Only one species, Solidago spp., showed an interactive response to warming and rainfall manipulation by advancing in +1.6 °C warming (regardless of rainfall manipulation) but not advancing in the warmest, driest treatment. Species-specific responses led to changes in temporal overlap between species. Most notably, the two autumn blooming species diverged significantly in their flowering timing. In ambient conditions, these two species flowered within the same week. In the warmest, driest treatment, flowering occurred over a month apart. Conclusions Herbaceous species may differ in how they respond to future climate conditions. Changes to phenology may lead to fewer resources for insects or a mismatch between plants and pollinators. 
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  7. Abstract

    Ecologists often invoke interspecific facilitation to help explain positive biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships in plant communities, but seldom test how it occurs. One mechanism through which one species may facilitate another is by ameliorating abiotic stress. Physiological experiments show that a chronic excess of light can cause stress that depresses carbon assimilation. If shading by a plant's neighbours reduces light stress enough, it may facilitate that plant's growth. If light is instead most often a limiting factor for photosynthesis, shading may have an adverse, competitive effect.

    In a temperate tree diversity experiment, we measured stem growth rates and photosynthetic physiology in broadleaf trees across a gradient of light availability imposed by their neighbours. At the extremes, trees experienced nearly full sun (monoculture), or were shaded by nearby fast‐growing conifers (shaded biculture).

    Most species had slower growth rates with larger neighbours, implying a net competitive effect. On the other hand, the two most shade‐tolerant species (Tilia americanaandAcer negundo) and the most shade‐intolerant one (Betula papyrifera) had faster stem growth rates with larger neighbours. The two shade‐tolerant species had the greatest increases in photoinhibition (reduced dark‐acclimatedFv/Fm) across the gradient of increasing light availability, which suggests they are more vulnerable to chronic light stress. While most species had lower carbon assimilation rates in the shaded biculture treatment,T. americanahad rates up to 25% higher.T. americanaalso dropped its leaves 3–4 weeks earlier in monocultures, curtailing its growing season.

    We conclude that although large neighbours can cause light limitation in shade‐intolerant species, they can also increase growth through abiotic stress amelioration in shade‐tolerant species. Finally, in shade‐intolerantB. papyrifera, we find a pattern of stem elongation in trees with larger neighbours, which suggests that a shade avoidance response may account for the apparent positive trend in stem volume.

    Synthesis. Both positive and negative species interactions in our experiment can be explained in large part by the photosynthetic responses of trees to the light environment created by their neighbours. We show that photosynthetic physiology can help explain the species interactions that underlie biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships. The insights that ecologists gain by searching for such physiological mechanisms may help us forecast species interactions under environmental change.

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  8. Abstract

    Global change is shifting disturbance regimes that may rapidly change ecosystems, sometimes causing ecosystems to shift between states. Interactions between disturbances such as fire and disease could have especially severe effects, but experimental tests of multi‐decadal changes in disturbance regimes are rare. Here, we surveyed vegetation for 35 years in a 54‐year fire frequency experiment in a temperate oak savanna–forest ecotone that experienced a recent outbreak of oak wilt. Different fire regimes determined whether plots were savanna or forest by regulating tree abundance (r2 = 0.70), but disease rapidly reversed the effect of fire exclusion, increasing mortality by 765% in unburned forests, but causing relatively minor changes in frequently burned savannas. Model simulations demonstrated that disease caused unburned forests to transition towards a unique woodland that was prone to transition to savanna if fire was reintroduced. Consequently, disease–fire interactions could shift ecosystem resilience and biome boundaries as pathogen distributions change.

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