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Seed production and dispersal limit treeline advance in the Pyrenees

  • Abstract Aims Pinus uncinata is the major treeline‐forming species in the Pyrenees. Yet, the role of its reproduction and dispersal as drivers of treeline dynamics remains unknown. Here we quantify seed production, dispersal and germination changes along the elevation gradient to assess whether they may constrain the foreseen treeline advance in the Pyrenees. Location Central Pyrenees, Catalonia, NE Spain. Methods We established four plots along an elevation gradient from the closed subalpine forest to the krummholz zone at five study sites. In each plot, we collected cones from five to six trees, measured their length, and triggered their opening in the laboratory to count the number of empty seeds and the number and weight of full seeds. We used the collected seeds in a germination experiment under controlled conditions in growth chambers. Additionally, we installed seed traps along the forest–alpine grassland transition to measure seed rain for three consecutive years in three of the study sites. Results The number of full seeds per cone decreased along the elevation gradient and was correlated with cone length. However, the proportion of full seeds per cone and their weight did not differ between elevation positions. Seed rain decreased drastically with elevation and no seeds arrived into the alpine grassland traps consistently across study years. Although germination success did not significantly differ between elevation provenances (i.e., elevation position of origin), we found significant differences in germination dynamics between study sites and between elevation provenances within sites. Conclusions Our results indicate that whereas the viability of Pinus uncinata seeds is not limited by elevation, seed production and dispersal are constraining the ongoing rates of treeline advance in the Pyrenees.

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Author: Alba Anadon‐Rosell, Marc Talavera, Josep M. Ninot, Empar Carrillo, Enric Batllori
Parent Title (English):Journal of Vegetation Science
Editor: James Bullock
Document Type:Article
Date of first Publication:2020/02/27
Release Date:2020/12/02
Tag:Pinus uncinata, alpine, reproductive ecology, seed germination, seed rain, treeline ecotone
GND Keyword:-
First Page:n/a
Last Page:n/a
Faculties:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Botanik und Landschaftsökologie & Botanischer Garten
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung