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Germination and early seedling growth of Pinus and Quercus at the forest-steppe ecotone: effects of environmental stress and facilitation

English title Germination and early seedling growth of Pinus and Quercus at the forest-steppe ecotone: effects of environmental stress and facilitation
Applicant Wohlgemuth Thomas Michael
Number 118002
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Swiss Federal Research Inst. WSL Direktion
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.01.2008 - 31.12.2011
Approved amount 220'426.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Ecology
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences

Keywords (6)

climate change; Growth response; Pinus; Quercus; Recruitment bottleneck; Valais

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
As an effect of climate warming, water stress and summer heat will increasingly limit forest growth in driest regions of Switzerland. Accordingly, dynamic vegetation models for the bottom of the Rhone valley (Sion) predict a decline of pine and oak under warmer climates. Recent observations of increased pine mortality confirm the vulnerability of this region, and sparse tree establishment at lowest elevation after a forest fire near Leuk indicates a recruitment bottleneck. Growth limitations can affect all life stages of trees, though the most vulnerable stage in a tree’s life cycle is recruitment. We hypothesize that climate change will affect forest continuity primarily at the seedling stage and thus recruitment is considered a bottleneck for forest longevity under changing environmental conditions (recruitment bottleneck hypothesis). There is growing knowledge of the recruitment bottleneck of Pinus sylvestris in Mediterranean climates, and questions arise to what extent environmental requirements of seed germination and seedling growth of P. sylvestris and Quercus pubescens differ in inner-alpine regions such as the low elevated zones of the Valais. Growth and survival of individuals are a function of the net outcome of interactions with other species and the abiotic environment. Effects of climate change may, therefore, be exacerbated or mitigated by interactions among species within communities. We will examine experimentally how multiple abiotic and biotic factors and their interactions influence recruitment of P. sylvestris (two provenances), Pinus nigra and Q. pubescens. A first experiment will test the impact of the factors water stress and increased temperature on seed germination and early seedling growth. A second experiment will assess the influence of mycorrhizal fungi and nurse plants on growth of one-year old seedlings (facilitation). Common garden experiments will be conducted at the bottom of the upper Rhone valley, in Susten VS (610 m a.s.l.; ca. 600 mm annual precipitation), where effects of climate warming are expected to result in a biome shift from forest to steppe. Our study will advance the knowledge of the capacity of inner-alpine dry forests to resist warmer climates. Understanding how abiotic factors affected by climate change interact with biotic factors will be the basis for more precise vegetation models. Results of our experiments will have broad scientific interest with respect to general impacts of warmer climates to vulnerable ecosystems and can be implemented in the conservation of inner-alpine dry forests.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Drought resistance of Pinus sylvestris seedlings conferred by plastic root architecture rather than ectomycorrhizal colonisation
Moser Barbara, Kipfer Tabea, Richter Sarah, Egli Simon, Wohlgemuth Thomas (2015), Drought resistance of Pinus sylvestris seedlings conferred by plastic root architecture rather than ectomycorrhizal colonisation, in ANNALS OF FOREST SCIENCE, 72(3), 303-309.
Growth response of drought-stressed Pinus sylvestris seedlings to single- and multi-species inoculation with ectomycorrhizal fungi
Kipfer Tabea, Wohlgemuth Thomas, van der Heijden Marcel G. A., Ghazoul Jaboury, Egli Simon (2012), Growth response of drought-stressed Pinus sylvestris seedlings to single- and multi-species inoculation with ectomycorrhizal fungi, in PLoSONE, 7(4), e35275.
Phenotypic plasticity facilitates resistance to climate change in a highly variable environment
Richter Sarah, Kipfer Tabea, Moser Barbara, Ghazoul Jaboury, Calderón Guerrero Carlos, Wohlgemuth Thomas (2012), Phenotypic plasticity facilitates resistance to climate change in a highly variable environment, in Oecologia, 169, 269-279.
Precipitation manipulation experiments - challenges and recommendations for the future
Beier Claus, Beierkuhnlein Carl, Wohlgemuth Thomas, Penuelas Josep, Emmett Bridget, Koerner Christian, de Boeck Hans J., Christensen Jens Hesselbjerg, Leuzinger Sebastian, Janssens Ivan A., Hansen Karin (2012), Precipitation manipulation experiments - challenges and recommendations for the future, in ECOLOGY LETTERS, 15(8), 899-911.
Ectomycorrhiza succession patterns in Pinus sylvestris forests after stand-replacing fire in the Central Alps
Kipfer T, Moser B, Egli S, Wohlgemuth T, Ghazoul J (2011), Ectomycorrhiza succession patterns in Pinus sylvestris forests after stand-replacing fire in the Central Alps, in OECOLOGIA, 167(1), 219-228.
Susceptibility of ectomycorrhizal fungi to soil heating
Kipfer T, Egli S, Ghazoul J, Moser B, Wohlgemuth T (2010), Susceptibility of ectomycorrhizal fungi to soil heating, in FUNGAL BIOLOGY, 114(5-6), 467-472.

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
121323 Common garden experiment with mobile, automatically controlled rainshelters 01.10.2008 R'EQUIP
140966 Interactive effects of CO2 and light conditions on drought resistance of conifer species during early growth 01.01.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)

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