Time lag between glacial retreat and upward migration alters tropical alpine communities

Anaïs Zimmer, Rosa I. Meneses, Antoine Rabatel, Alvaro Soruco, Olivier Dangles, Fabien Anthelme

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48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Species range shifts and possible species extinctions in alpine regions are hypothesized being influenced by the increasing time lag between the velocity of global warming and the slowness of primary succession. We tested this hypothesis in tropical alpine environments above 4700 m a.s.l. (Central Andes) and we explored the underlying mechanisms at work by using four sites gradually deglaciated since the acceleration of warming in the late 1970’s. These post-glacial chronosequences, made available by a multidisciplinary approach combining glaciology and ecology, are extremely rare and provide a pertinent space-for-time substitution for the study of climate change effects. We found consistent patterns in plant succession (abundance, species richness and functional strategies) along the four chronosequences. Dispersal limitation was a prominent constraint for succession, even at the end of the chronosequences, leading to an overrepresentation of anemochorous species in comparison with adjacent ecosystems. Nurse plants were infrequent and their low maturity seemed to make them poorly efficient as facilitators, contrarily to the expectations made by the stress-gradient hypothesis in alpine regions. This suggests that, despite the accelerating rate of warming, the dynamics of primary succession remains slow, generating a climatic debt and hampering the adaptation to climate change in alpine plant communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-102
Number of pages14
JournalPerspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
Volume30
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ariel Lliully, Arely Palabral, Edwin J. Palomino, Luzmila Dávila Roller, Marlene Rosario Guerrero, Selwyn Valverde, Martin Salvador Gianny Rodriguez y Noriza Garcia Romero for outstanding help in the field, plant determination and data on glacial retreat. We also thank the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This work was funded by the Fond Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (FRB) (Modeling BIOdiversity and land use interactions under changing glacial water availability in Tropical High Andean Wetlands” − BIOTHAW, AAP-SCEN-2011-II). Antoine Rabatel acknowledges the support of LabEx OSUG@2020 (Investissements d’avenir – ANR10LABX56), GLACIOCLIM and LMI GREAT-ICE funded by the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). The Pléiades satellite images from 2013 were acquired through the CNES program ISIS_Pléaides-FC18473.

Funding Information:
We thank Ariel Lliully, Arely Palabral, Edwin J. Palomino, Luzmila Dávila Roller, Marlene Rosario Guerrero, Selwyn Valverde, Martin Salvador Gianny Rodriguez y Noriza Garcia Romero for outstanding help in the field, plant determination and data on glacial retreat. We also thank the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This work was funded by the Fond Français pour l'Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (FRB) (Modeling BIOdiversity and land use interactions under changing glacial water availability in Tropical High Andean Wetlands” − BIOTHAW, AAP-SCEN-2011-II). Antoine Rabatel acknowledges the support of LabEx OSUG@2020 (Investissements d'avenir – ANR10LABX56), GLACIOCLIM and LMI GREAT-ICE funded by the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). The Pléiades satellite images from 2013 were acquired through the CNES program ISIS_Pléaides-FC18473.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier GmbH

Keywords

  • Biological soil crust
  • Chronosequence
  • Climatic debt
  • Nurse plant
  • Species range shifts
  • Tropical andes

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