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del Cacho M.,CREAF | del Cacho M.,University of Barcelona | Estiarte M.,CREAF | Estiarte M.,Global Ecology Unit CSIC CEAB CREAF UAB | And 4 more authors.
Population Ecology | Year: 2013

We aimed to assess the impact of warmer and drier climate change conditions on the seed rain and seedling establishment of Globularia alypum L. and Erica multiflora L., two dominant species in Western coastal Mediterranean shrublands. We performed a non-intrusive field experiment in which we increased the night-time temperatures and excluded spring and autumn rainfall. We monitored the seed rain over 5 years and the seedling recruitment over 9 years on these experimental plots. Seed rain of E. multiflora was enhanced by warming treatment in relation to control, and higher annual rainfall, while seed rain of G. alypum was increased by drought treatment in relation to control, dry years and higher minimum annual temperature. Annual rainfall enhanced the seedling emergence of both species, which also positively correlated with annual mean temperatures. Drought treatment significantly decreased seedling emergence for both species, which was higher in open areas than below vegetation cover. The seedling survival of both species diminished at closer distances to competing neighbours, and in G. alypum seedling survival was higher with lower annual mean temperatures and higher annual rainfall, but also in drought treatment, which have experienced vegetation cover decline. The study confirms that the increasing aridity in Mediterranean ecosystems would constrain the early stages of development in typical co-occurring shrubs. However, there are contrasting responses to climatic conditions between species recruitment, which might favour changes in vegetation through modification of species relative abundance. © 2013 The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan.

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