[PCA] ARTICLE: Climate Warming and Seasonal Precipitation Change Interact to Limit Species Distribution Shifts across Western North America

De Angelis, Patricia patricia_deangelis at fws.gov
Thu Jul 28 11:21:31 CDT 2016

 Harsch MA, HilleRisLambers J (2016) Climate Warming and Seasonal
Precipitation Change Interact to Limit Species Distribution Shifts across
Western North America. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0159184.

Using an extensive network of occurrence records for 293 plant species
collected over the past 40 years across a climatically diverse geographic
section of western North America, we find that plant species distributions
were just as likely to shift upwards (i.e., towards higher elevations) as
downward (i.e., towards lower elevations)–despite consistent warming across
the study area. Although there was no clear directional response to climate
warming across the entire study area, there was significant region- to
region- variation in responses (i.e. from as many as 73% to as few as 32%
of species shifting upward). To understand the factors that might be
controlling region-specific distributional shifts of plant species, we
explored the relationship between the direction of change in distribution
limits and the nature of recent climate change. We found that the direction
that distribution limits shifted was explained by an interaction between
the rate of change in local summer temperatures and seasonal precipitation.
Specifically, species were more likely to shift upward at their upper
elevational limit when minimum temperatures increased *and* snowfall was
unchanging or declined at slower rates (<0.5 mm/year). This suggests that
both low temperature and water availability limit upward shifts at upper
elevation limits. By contrast, species were more likely to shift upwards at
their lower elevation limit when maximum temperatures increased, but also
shifted upwards under conditions of cooling temperatures when precipitation
decreased. This suggests increased water stress may drive upward shifts at
lower elevation limits. Our results suggest that species’ elevational
distribution shifts are not predictable by climate warming alone but depend
on the interaction between seasonal temperature and precipitation change.

Full article:
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