Climate-change ecology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Amid climate and land use changes, it is important to identify and monitor hotspots of animal activity where disease transmission can occur. Using experimental and observational methods in an East African savannah, this study shows water sources increase the concentration of faecal-oral parasites in the environment and that this effect is amplified in drier areas and following periods of low rainfall.

    • Georgia Titcomb
    • , John Naisikie Mantas
    •  & Hillary Young
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ongoing disproportionate increases in temperature and precipitation in the Alaska may alter the latitudinal gradients in greenup and snowmelt timings as well as carbon dynamics. With a broad range of datasets and model results, the authors show that the carbon response to early greenup or delayed snowmelt varies greatly depending upon local climatic limits.

    • JiHyun Kim
    • , Yeonjoo Kim
    •  & Crystal L. Schaaf
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tree species that are expanding their distribution in response to climate change could be hindered or facilitated by disturbances. Here the authors analyse forest inventory data from the western US to test the hypothesis that wildfire can facilitate climate-induced range shifts in trees.

    • Avery P. Hill
    •  & Christopher B. Field
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Phytoplankton communities are important players in biogeochemical processes, but are sensitive to global warming. Here, a meta-analysis shows how the varied responses of phytoplankton to rising temperatures could potentially alter growth dynamics and community structure in a future ocean.

    • S. I. Anderson
    • , A. D. Barton
    •  & T. A. Rynearson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Harmful algal and bacterial blooms are increasingly frequent in lakes and rivers. From the Sydney Basin, Australia, this study uses fossil, sedimentary and geochemical data to reveal bloom events following forest ecosystem collapse during the end-Permian event and that blooms have consistently followed warming-related extinction events, inhibiting the recovery of freshwater ecosystems for millennia.

    • Chris Mays
    • , Stephen McLoughlin
    •  & Vivi Vajda
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships may vary with climate. Here, the authors study relationships of plant and soil microbial diversity with soil nutrient multifunctionality in 130 dryland sites in China, finding a shift towards greater importance of soil microbial diversity in arid conditions.

    • Weigang Hu
    • , Jinzhi Ran
    •  & Jianming Deng
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Warming will affect marine plankton biomass, but also its diversity and community composition in poorly understood ways. Here, the authors model the spatial distribution of 860 marine plankton species from 10 functional groups and identify the future hotspots of climate change impacts under RCP8.5.

    • Fabio Benedetti
    • , Meike Vogt
    •  & Nicolas Gruber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change is expected to have major impacts on forest tree diseases. Here the authors analyse long-term data of white pine blister rust in the southern Sierra Nevada, finding evidence of climate change-driven disease range expansion that was mediated by spatially varying host-pathogen-drought interactions.

    • Joan Dudney
    • , Claire E. Willing
    •  & John J. Battles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the dynamics of species interactions can help predict community responses to climate change. A spatially explicit model finds that species interactions and competition mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change, and that temperature-dependent competition makes communities more variable and responsive to changing climates.

    • Anna Åkesson
    • , Alva Curtsdotter
    •  & György Barabás
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Long-distance bird migration timing is thought to be relatively inflexible despite climate change. Here, based on 13 years of mark-resight and geolocator-tracking data on bar-tailed godwits, the authors report a 6-day advance of departure time which is explained by an unexpected degree of individual plasticity.

    • Jesse R. Conklin
    • , Simeon Lisovski
    •  & Phil F. Battley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The North Water polynya is a unique but vulnerable ecosystem, home to Indigenous people and Arctic keystone species. New palaeoecological records from Greenland suggest human abandonment c. 2200–1200 cal yrs BP occurred during climate-forced polynya instability, foreshadowing future ecosystem declines.

    • Sofia Ribeiro
    • , Audrey Limoges
    •  & Thomas A. Davidson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Little is known on how mitonuclear interactions influence genomic divergence among hybrid and parental lineages. A study of hybridizing wood warbler species complex finds a nuclear gene block with mitochondrial functions coevolves with mitochondrial genome, driven by climate-associated divergent selection underlying hybrid-parental population divergence.

    • Silu Wang
    • , Madelyn J. Ore
    •  & Darren Irwin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Jiao et al. conducted a comprehensive evaluation of changes in water constraint on vegetation growth in the extratropical Northern Hemisphere between 1982 and 2015. They document a significant increase in vegetation water constraint over the last three decades.

    • Wenzhe Jiao
    • , Lixin Wang
    •  & Paolo D’Odorico
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether climate driven phenological shifts of tundra plants are consistent across the plant growing season. Here the authors analyse data from a network of field warming experiments in Arctic and alpine tundra, finding that warming differentially affects the timing and duration of reproductive and vegetative phenology.

    • Courtney G. Collins
    • , Sarah C. Elmendorf
    •  & Katharine N. Suding
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Long-term sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) records can help inform how biodiversity will likely respond to future climate change. Here, Liu et al. reconstruct plant diversity at the margin of the Tibetan Plateau over the last ~18,000 years using sedaDNA and use this record to predict future diversity change.

    • Sisi Liu
    • , Stefan Kruse
    •  & Ulrike Herzschuh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Trait-based approaches assume upper critical thermal limits (CTLs) are good predictors of climate change vulnerability. Here, the authors show that male fertility thermal limits, which are lower than CTLs, are better at predicting Drosophila extinction in the lab, suggesting species may be living close to their thermal limits.

    • Belinda van Heerwaarden
    •  & Carla M. Sgrò
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is much uncertainty on the response of soil microbial communities to warming, particularly in the subsoil. Here, the authors investigate microbial community and metabolism response to 4.5 years of whole-profile soil warming, finding depth-dependent effects and elevated subsoil microbial respiration.

    • Nicholas C. Dove
    • , Margaret S. Torn
    •  & Neslihan Taş
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plant population growth rate is sensitive to annual temperature and precipitation anomalies. Here the authors analyse time series of population projection models from multiple biomes, finding a relationship between short generation times and strong demographic responses to climate—particularly precipitation—anomalies.

    • Aldo Compagnoni
    • , Sam Levin
    •  & Tiffany M. Knight
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Most mammals are nocturnal, but a new analysis suggests that although most groups of species active at a particular time of day or night occupy different ecological niches, a surprisingly large proportion of species are more flexible in the timing of their activity than previously thought.

    • D. T. C. Cox
    • , A. S. Gardner
    •  & K. J. Gaston
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether tropical forest fragments within plantation landscapes are resilient to drought. Here the authors analyse LiDAR and ground-based data from the 2015-16 El Niño event across a logging intensity gradient in Borneo. Although regenerating forests continued to grow, canopy height near oil palm plantations decreased, and a strong edge effect extended up to at least 300 m away.

    • Matheus Henrique Nunes
    • , Tommaso Jucker
    •  & David A. Coomes
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Investing in forest protection is a way to generate tradable carbon credits to support biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. Here the authors assess and map the global supply of tropical forest carbon credits with the goal of informing climate policy and investments.

    • Lian Pin Koh
    • , Yiwen Zeng
    •  & Kelly Siman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The effects of climate on vector-borne disease systems are highly context-dependent. Here, the authors incorporate laboratory-measured physiological traits of the mosquito Aedes aegypti into climate-driven mechanistic models to predict number, timing, and duration of outbreaks in Ecuador and Kenya.

    • Jamie M. Caldwell
    • , A. Desiree LaBeaud
    •  & Erin A. Mordecai
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There are a number of competing explanations for the late Pleistocene extinction of many North American megafauna species. Here, the authors apply a Bayesian regression approach that finds greater concordance between megafaunal declines and climate change than with human population growth.

    • Mathew Stewart
    • , W. Christopher Carleton
    •  & Huw S. Groucutt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fires triggered by climate change threaten plant diversity in many biomes. Here the authors investigate how the catastrophic fires of 2019–2020 affected the vascular flora of SE Australia. They report that 816 species were highly impacted, including taxa of biogeographic and conservation interest.

    • Robert C. Godfree
    • , Nunzio Knerr
    •  & Linda M. Broadhurst
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The future of terrestrial systems is influenced by their past, but this carryover effect is rarely quantified. Here, the authors provide the first quantitative evidence that a greener spring begets a greener summer and autumn, and that this carryover effect is even stronger than climate drivers.

    • Xu Lian
    • , Shilong Piao
    •  & Ranga B. Myneni
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change may pose a challenge not only for survival of animals but also for their reproduction. Here, Schou et al. analyse how male and female ostrich fertility relates to fluctuating temperature across 20 years, finding reduced fertility away from the thermal optimum, but also individual variation in thermal tolerance.

    • Mads F. Schou
    • , Maud Bonato
    •  & Charlie K. Cornwallis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Forest structure depends both on extrinsic factors such as climate and on intrinsic properties such as community composition and diversity. Here, the authors use a dataset of stand structural complexity based on LiDAR measurements to build a global map of structural complexity for primary forests, and find that precipitation variables best explain global patterns of forest structural complexity.

    • Martin Ehbrecht
    • , Dominik Seidel
    •  & Christian Ammer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Soils hold massive amounts of carbon that hangs in the balance of microbial respiration and climate warming. Here the authors analyze a global dataset starting in 1987 and find through modeling that though soil respiration change had flatlined, recently it has resumed increasing owing to global warming.

    • Jiesi Lei
    • , Xue Guo
    •  & Yunfeng Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The 2012–2016 drought and western pine beetle outbreaks caused unprecedented mortality of ponderosa pine in the Sierra Nevada, California. Here, the authors analyse drone-based data from almost half a million trees and find an interaction between host size and climatic water deficit, with higher mortality for large trees in dry, warm conditions but not in cooler or wetter conditions.

    • Michael J. Koontz
    • , Andrew M. Latimer
    •  & Malcolm P. North
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate change and local anthropogenic stressors threaten the persistence of coral reefs. Here the authors track coral bleaching over the course of a heatwave and find that some colonies recovered from bleaching while high temperatures persisted, but only at sites lacking in other strong anthropogenic stressors.

    • Danielle C. Claar
    • , Samuel Starko
    •  & Julia K. Baum
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Droughts pose an increasingly important threat to forests. Here the authors analyse a high-resolution Landsat-based dataset of forest canopy mortality in Europe over 1987–2016 to show that drought is already a major driver of tree mortality.

    • Cornelius Senf
    • , Allan Buras
    •  & Rupert Seidl
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many mountain species are threatened by climate change and habitat loss. Here, the authors investigate population declines and range shifts of orchids in an alpine region in NE Italy over 28 years. For most species, population size decreased, while range shifts were idiosyncratic with over half of the species lagging behind climate change.

    • Costanza Geppert
    • , Giorgio Perazza
    •  & Lorenzo Marini
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fish production is predicted to decrease with anthropogenic global warming. Here the authors analyse fish fossil assemblages from 62–46 My old deep-sea sediments and instead find a positive correlation between fish production and ocean temperature over geological timescales, which a data-constrained model explains in terms of trophic transfer efficiency and primary production.

    • Gregory L. Britten
    •  & Elizabeth C. Sibert
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Long-term dynamics of species’ range sizes play a crucial role in determining extinction risks. Here the authors simulate global vegetation cover and scenarios of anthropogenic land cover change to estimate habitat range sizes of thousands of mammal, bird, and amphibian species since 1700, and project trajectories up to 2100 under four emission scenarios and five socio-economic pathways.

    • Robert M. Beyer
    •  & Andrea Manica
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Correlations between tree species diversity and tree abundance are well established, but the direction of the relationship is unresolved. Here the authors use path models to estimate plausible causal pathways in the diversity-abundance relationship across 23 global forests regions, finding a lack of general support for a positive diversity-abundance relationship, which is prevalent in the most productive lands on Earth only

    • Jaime Madrigal-González
    • , Joaquín Calatayud
    •  & Markus Stoffel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Bryophytes tend to be sensitive to warming, but their high dispersal ability could help them track climate change. Here the authors combine correlative niche models and mechanistic dispersal models for 40 European bryophyte species under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, finding that most of these species are unlikely to track climate change over the coming decades.

    • F. Zanatta
    • , R. Engler
    •  & A. Vanderpoorten
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many models assume a universal carbon use efficiency across forest biomes, in contrast to assumptions of other process-based models. Here the authors analyse forest production efficiency across a wide range of climates to show a positive relationship with annual temperature and precipitation, indicating that ecosystem models are overestimating forest carbon losses under warming.

    • A. Collalti
    • , A. Ibrom
    •  & I. C. Prentice
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Coastal systems have enormous carbon-sequestering potential, but any positive climate effects can be countered by methane emissions. Here the authors use sea level rise manipulation mesocosms in tidal wetlands to show that shifts in plant community composition have the greatest effect on methane emissions.

    • Peter Mueller
    • , Thomas J. Mozdzer
    •  & J. Patrick Megonigal
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Island ecosystems are notoriously vulnerable to anthropogenic species losses. Here, the authors identify insular hotspots of vulnerability to climate change (under RCPs 6.0 and 8.5) in mammals via a trait-based, quantitative vulnerability framework, finding that exposure to climate change is not a reliable proxy to assess species vulnerability, while sensitivity and adaptive capacity are crucial to understand vulnerability.

    • Camille Leclerc
    • , Franck Courchamp
    •  & Céline Bellard
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate warming is advancing spring leaf unfolding, but it is also reducing the cold periods that many trees require to break winter dormancy. Here, the authors show that 7 of 12 current chilling models fail to account for the correct relationship between chilling accumulation and heat requirement, leading to substantial overestimates of the advance of spring phenology under climate change.

    • Huanjiong Wang
    • , Chaoyang Wu
    •  & Quansheng Ge
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How past climate change has affected biodiversity over large spatial scales remains underexplored. Here, the authors find marked homogenization in flowering plant phylogenetic diversity across Central and Northern Europe linked to rapid climate change and large distances to glacial refugia.

    • Bianca Saladin
    • , Loïc Pellissier
    •  & Niklaus E. Zimmermann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ecosystem Based Management measures developed to prevent overfishing could be particularly important under climate change. Here the authors combine climate and fish stock modelling to show that EBM cap implementation reduces climate-driven fishery declines under RCP 4.5 and 8.5 before midcentury. However, there are thermal tipping points beyond which potential collapses are predicted.

    • K. K. Holsman
    • , A. C. Haynie
    •  & A. E. Punt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The universality of the trade-off between early growth and lifespan in trees and its implications are disputed. Analysing a global tree ring dataset and performing data-driven simulations, the authors demonstrate the pervasiveness of the trade-off and challenge current earth system models that predict a continuation of the carbon sink into mature forests under warming and increasing CO2.

    • R. J. W. Brienen
    • , L. Caldwell
    •  & E. Gloor
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Wheat yield is sensitive to temperature, but there could be substantial variation in this response across cultivars. Here the authors present data on the climatic responses of wheat cultivars in South Africa, highlighting which cultivars might be better able to maintain yield under warming.

    • Aaron M. Shew
    • , Jesse B. Tack
    •  & Petronella Chaminuka
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Pleistocene population dynamics can inform the consequences of current climate change. This phylogeography of 35 complete American mastodon mitochondrial genomes suggests distinct lineages in this species repeatedly expanded northwards and then went locally extinct in response to glacial cycles.

    • Emil Karpinski
    • , Dirk Hackenberger
    •  & Hendrik N. Poinar
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The average body size of salmon has declined rapidly over recent decades. Here the authors quantify changes in body size distributions for Pacific salmon in Alaska and examine the causes and consequences of size declines for ecosystems, food security, and commercial fisheries.

    • K. B. Oke
    • , C. J. Cunningham
    •  & E. P. Palkovacs