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Previous Land Use Alters the Effect of Climate Change and Facilitation on Expanding Woodlands of Spanish Juniper

Teresa E. Gimeno, Adrián Escudero, Antonio Delgado and Fernando Valladares
Ecosystems
Vol. 15, No. 4 (June 2012), pp. 564-579
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41505989
Page Count: 16
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Previous Land Use Alters the Effect of Climate Change and Facilitation on Expanding Woodlands of Spanish Juniper
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Abstract

In Mediterranean-continental regions, changes in land use are leading to the expansion of valuable habitats like endemic Juniperus thurifera woodlands, but the impact of reduced rainfall, due to climate change, on this expansion remains uncertain. We assessed the early performance of J. thurifera in different global change scenarios with and without facilitation. Saplings were transplanted in three ecosystems types with different previous land use (woodlands, former agricultural fields, and former livestock pastures), microhabitats (open vs. understory of adult trees) and were subjected to two watering regimens. We characterized the abiotic environment and measured survival, growth and two ecophysiological parameters. Former livestock pastures were the least favorable ecosystem, where the nursing effect was greatest. Former agricultural fields had the highest survival, but were more sensitive than woodlands to water scarcity. Reduced rainfall decreased photochemical efficiency, particularly in the least favorable scenarios, but did not affect survival. Water use efficiency enhanced growth under the canopy, but not in the open, whereas photochemical efficiency enhanced growth and survival more in the open. Facilitation was critical for effective recruitment in the harshest scenarios: former livestock pastures and reduced rainfall. Comparison with previous studies suggests that establishment depends on infrequent wet episodes. In Mediterranean ecosystems, changes in land use and climate change are leading to woodland expansion due to the modulating effect of facilitation of the oncoming adverse drier conditions. Nevertheless, the positive effect of facilitation and the negative impact of aridity on tree recruitment are strongly influenced by previous land-use history.

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