Institut for Biologi

Aarhus Universitets segl

J.-C. Svenning

Extreme drought reduces climatic disequilibrium in dryland plant communities

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  • María Pérez-Navarro, CREAF
  • ,
  • Josep M. Serra-Diaz, Universite de Lorraine
  • ,
  • Jens Christian Svenning
  • Miguel Ángel Esteve-Selma, University of Murcia
  • ,
  • Joaquin Hernández-Bastida, University of Murcia
  • ,
  • Francisco Lloret, Autonomous University of Barcelona, CREAF

High rates of climate change are currently exceeding many plant species' capacity to keep up with climate, leading to mismatches between climatic conditions and climatic preferences of the species present in a community. This disequilibrium between climate and community composition could diminish, however, when critical climate thresholds are exceeded, due to population declines or losses among the more mismatched species. Here, we assessed the effect of an extreme drought event on rich semiarid shrubland communities in the south-eastern Iberian Peninsula. Using a community climate framework, we compared the community climatic disequilibrium before and after the drought episode on three study sites with different levels of precipitation. Disequilibrium was estimated as the difference between observed reference climate and community-inferred climate, calculated as the mean climatic optimum for the species present, weighted by their abundances. We found that extreme drought embedded within a decadal trend of increasing aridity led to a significant reduction in community climatic disequilibrium, and that this reduction was positively related to water deficit (low P/PET values). In contrast, microhabitat variables such as vegetation cover or slope, did not emerge as significant predictors of changes in community climatic disequilibrium. Our study highlights that extreme drought events pushing communities in the same direction as climate trends may decrease community climatic mismatch, leading to communities more adapted to aridity through loss of drought-sensitive species. These findings underscore that extreme events will play a crucial role in speeding up climate-induced community transformations and biodiversity losses.

Sider (fra-til)680-690
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - maj 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
– This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education through a doctoral grant (FPU14/03519), by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the BIOCLIM project (CGL2015‐67419‐R) and by AGAUR 2017 SGR 1001 grant (Generalitat de Catalunya). JCS considers this work a contribution to his VILLUM Investigator project ‘Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World' funded by VILLUM FONDEN (grant 16549) and his Danish Council for Independent Research | Natural Sciences project TREECHANGE (grant 6108‐00078B). Funding

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Nordic Society Oikos. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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