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      Ecological constraints increase the climatic debt in forests

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          Abstract

          Biodiversity changes are lagging behind current climate warming. The underlying determinants of this climatic debt are unknown and yet critical to understand the impacts of climate change on the present biota and improve forecasts of biodiversity changes. Here we assess determinants of climatic debt accumulated in French forest herbaceous plant communities between 1987 and 2008 (that is, a 1.05 °C mean difference between the observed and bioindicated temperatures). We show that warmer baseline conditions predispose plant communities to larger climatic debts, and that climate warming exacerbates this response. Forest plant communities, however, are absorbing part of the temperature increase mainly through the species' ability to tolerate changing climate. As climate warming is expected to accelerate during the twenty-first century, plant migration and tolerance to climatic stresses probably will be insufficient to absorb this impact posing threats to the sustainability of forest plant communities.

          Abstract

          Many species show a time-lagged response to climate change, a phenomenon called climatic debt. Here, Bertrand and colleagues show that climate severity and plant tolerance to climate warming mainly influence the climatic debt of forest herbaceous plant communities.

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          A significant upward shift in plant species optimum elevation during the 20th century.

          Spatial fingerprints of climate change on biotic communities are usually associated with changes in the distribution of species at their latitudinal or altitudinal extremes. By comparing the altitudinal distribution of 171 forest plant species between 1905 and 1985 and 1986 and 2005 along the entire elevation range (0 to 2600 meters above sea level) in west Europe, we show that climate warming has resulted in a significant upward shift in species optimum elevation averaging 29 meters per decade. The shift is larger for species restricted to mountain habitats and for grassy species, which are characterized by faster population turnover. Our study shows that climate change affects the spatial core of the distributional range of plant species, in addition to their distributional margins, as previously reported.
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            Climate change, adaptation, and phenotypic plasticity: the problem and the evidence

            Many studies have recorded phenotypic changes in natural populations and attributed them to climate change. However, controversy and uncertainty has arisen around three levels of inference in such studies. First, it has proven difficult to conclusively distinguish whether phenotypic changes are genetically based or the result of phenotypic plasticity. Second, whether or not the change is adaptive is usually assumed rather than tested. Third, inferences that climate change is the specific causal agent have rarely involved the testing – and exclusion – of other potential drivers. We here review the various ways in which the above inferences have been attempted, and evaluate the strength of support that each approach can provide. This methodological assessment sets the stage for 11 accompanying review articles that attempt comprehensive syntheses of what is currently known – and not known – about responses to climate change in a variety of taxa and in theory. Summarizing and relying on the results of these reviews, we arrive at the conclusion that evidence for genetic adaptation to climate change has been found in some systems, but is still relatively scarce. Most importantly, it is clear that more studies are needed – and these must employ better inferential methods – before general conclusions can be drawn. Overall, we hope that the present paper and special issue provide inspiration for future research and guidelines on best practices for its execution.
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              Ecological assembly rules in plant communities--approaches, patterns and prospects.

              Understanding how communities of living organisms assemble has been a central question in ecology since the early days of the discipline. Disentangling the different processes involved in community assembly is not only interesting in itself but also crucial for an understanding of how communities will behave under future environmental scenarios. The traditional concept of assembly rules reflects the notion that species do not co-occur randomly but are restricted in their co-occurrence by interspecific competition. This concept can be redefined in a more general framework where the co-occurrence of species is a product of chance, historical patterns of speciation and migration, dispersal, abiotic environmental factors, and biotic interactions, with none of these processes being mutually exclusive. Here we present a survey and meta-analyses of 59 papers that compare observed patterns in plant communities with null models simulating random patterns of species assembly. According to the type of data under study and the different methods that are applied to detect community assembly, we distinguish four main types of approach in the published literature: species co-occurrence, niche limitation, guild proportionality and limiting similarity. Results from our meta-analyses suggest that non-random co-occurrence of plant species is not a widespread phenomenon. However, whether this finding reflects the individualistic nature of plant communities or is caused by methodological shortcomings associated with the studies considered cannot be discerned from the available metadata. We advocate that more thorough surveys be conducted using a set of standardized methods to test for the existence of assembly rules in data sets spanning larger biological and geographical scales than have been considered until now. We underpin this general advice with guidelines that should be considered in future assembly rules research. This will enable us to draw more accurate and general conclusions about the non-random aspect of assembly in plant communities. © 2011 The Authors. Biological Reviews © 2011 Cambridge Philosophical Society.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group
                2041-1723
                26 August 2016
                2016
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]CNRS, Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station, UMR5321 CNRS-Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III , 2 route du CNRS, FR-09200 Moulis, France
                [2 ]LERFoB, INRA, AgroParisTech , FR-54000 Nancy, France
                [3 ]Ecologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés, FRE3498 CNRS-UPJV, 1 Rue des Louvels , FR-80037 Amiens Cedex 1, France
                [4 ]IGN, Laboratoire de l Inventaire Forestier , 11 rue de l'Ile de Corse, FR-54000 Nancy, France
                [5 ]CNRS, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes, Université de Strasbourg, , 12 rue du Général Zimmer, FR-67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France
                Author notes
                Article
                ncomms12643
                10.1038/ncomms12643
                5007460
                27561410
                Copyright © 2016, The Author(s)

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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