Citation Matías L, Linares JC, Sánchez-Miranda Á & Jump AS (2017) Contrasting growth forecasts across the geographical range of Scots pine due to altitudinal and latitudinal differences in climatic sensitivity. Global Change Biology, 23 (10), pp. 4106-4116. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13627
Abstract Ongoing changes in global climate are altering ecological conditions for many species. The consequences of such changes are typically most evident at the edge of a species’ geographical distribution, where differences in growth or population dynamics may result in range expansions or contractions. Understanding population responses to different climatic drivers along wide latitudinal and altitudinal gradients is necessary in order to gain a better understanding of plant responses to ongoing increases in global temperature and drought severity. We selected Scots pine (Pinus sylvestrisL.) as a model species to explore growth responses to climatic variability (seasonal temperature and precipitation) over the last century through dendrochronological methods. We developed linear models based on age, climate and previous growth to forecast growth trends up to year 2100 using climatic predictions. Populations were located at the treeline across a latitudinal gradient covering the northern, central and southernmost populations and across an altitudinal gradient at the southern edge of the distribution (treeline, medium and lower elevations). Radial growth was maximal at medium altitude and treeline of the southernmost populations. Temperature was the main factor controlling growth variability along the gradients, although the timing and strength of climatic variables affecting growth shifted with latitude and altitude. Predictive models forecast a general increase in Scots pine growth at treeline across the latitudinal distribution, with southern populations increasing growth up to year 2050, when it stabilises. The highest responsiveness appeared at central latitude, and moderate growth increase is projected at the northern limit. Contrastingly, the model forecasted growth decline at lowland-southern populations, suggesting an upslope range displacement over the coming decades. Our results give insight into the geographical responses of tree species to climate change and demonstrate the importance of incorporating biogeographical variability into predictive models for an accurate prediction of species dynamics as climate changes.