Warming‐induced shrubline advance stalled by moisture limitation on the Tibetan Plateau
Camarero, J. Julio
AffiliationSchool of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona
University of Arizona
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CitationWang, Y., Liang, E., Lu, X., Camarero, J. J., Babst, F., Shen, M., & Peñuelas, J. (2021). Warming-induced shrubline advance stalled by moisture limitation on the Tibetan Plateau. Ecography.
Rights© 2021 the Authors. Ecography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos. This an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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AbstractWillows (Salix) are some of the most abundant shrubs in cold alpine and tundra biomes. In alpine regions, seed dispersal is not limiting upwards willow expansion, so the upslope shift of willow shrublines is assumed to be a response to climatic warming. Very little, however, is known about the recent spatiotemporal dynamics of alpine willow shrublines. The world's highest willow shrublines (ca 4900 m a.s.l.) are located on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and provide a rare opportunity to test their sensitivity and responses to rapid warming and the associated increase in the demand for water in ecosystems. We used a new data set comprising 24 Salix shrubline plots along a 900-km latitudinal gradient (30‒38°N) to reconstruct the rates of annual shrub recruitment and shifting shrubline positions since 1939. Shrub densification and shrubline advances were promoted by pronounced summer warming before 2010, contributing to widespread greening on the TP. These trends, however, reversed due to warming-induced moisture limitation after 2010, which thus represented a tipping point of warming/drying trade-offs. Climatic warming and drying are predicted to accelerate in the following decades, so alpine plant communities may be at an increasing risk of population decline or even range contraction.
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2021 the Authors. Ecography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos. This an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.