INCLINE Indirect climate change impacts on mountain plant communities
Climate warming is already causing significant alterations in plant communities, including range shifts to higher elevation and latitude and changes in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. It is unclear, however, to what extent these responses represent direct effects of altered climate, or indirect effects mediated by changing interactions among species. Entirely novel interactions, which arise because species do not migrate in concert, could have especially large impacts on species, community and ecosystem responses to climate change, especially if newly arriving species introduce novel functional traits and trait combinations. This possibility has received little attention in climate change ecology.
INCLINE is designed to achieve the following objectives:
- Disentangle direct, indirect, and novel interaction impacts of climate warming on alpine species and communities, and assess how these vary with climatic context (WP1).
- Identify the global predictors of successful establishment of novel species, and of susceptibility of resident species to the effects of climate change and/or novel interactions (WP2).
- Further our mechanistic understanding of the causes and impacts of novel interactions through trait-based and demographic approaches (WP1–3).
- Advance our ability to predict the outcome of direct and indirect impacts, including novel competitive interactions, for species distributions (WP3).
- Develop and disseminate innovative educational packages on climate change impacts (All WPs)
INCLINE will focus on the indirect effects of climate change, and particularly the impact of novel species colonising upland plant communities. The three work packages are outlined below.
WP1 – We conduct field experiments to investigate and disentangle the impacts of (i) direct effects of climate warming, (ii) indirect effects of changes in interactions between already-present species, and (iii) indirect effects of introduced novel species interactions. These experiments, conducted in the four alpine sites of our Vestland Climate Grid in Western Norway, help us understand how plant populations, plant communities, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are affected by climate change directly, indirectly, and through novel interactions.
WP2 – Taking a meta-analysis approach, we harness existing data from plant community transplant experiments from around the world, and relate patterns of colonisation/extinction to functional traits of the component species. This improves our understanding of climate change impacts on mountain vegetation, uncover underlying mechanisms, and demonstrate how these vary with ecological and environmental settings on a global scale.
WP3 – The results of WP1&2 are being used to develop mechanistic models of species’ distributions, contributing to the next-generation of predictive models that can incorporate the impacts of changing species interactions on range dynamics under climate change.
INCLINE collaborates with other projects and infratructures such as the Vestland Climate Grid, FunCaB, and FUNDER.
We also have opportunities for Internships, Master's level studies and visiting researchers.
Former Master students
Lasse SF Søgaard (2019-2020) – The effects of climate on resource allocation and traits of alpine and boreal herbaceous plants
Gunvor Skjelstad (2019-2020) – Reproductive allocation and floral traits of insect-pollinated forbs along climatic gradients in semi-natural grasslands
Ingrid Dahle (2020-2021) - Are subalpine species’ seedling emergence and establishment in the alpine limited by climate or biotic interactions?
Susanne Berthelsen (2021-2022) - The neighborhood matters: warming and novel competitors alter flower production of alpine plants