New SeedClim paper out in PNAS

Studying climate change through a plant’s perspective

It is finally here! In our recently published paper ‘Biotic rescaling reveals importance of species interactions for variation in biodiversity responses to climate change‘ in PNAS, we present important findings from the ongoing SeedClim project.

Understanding climate-induced changes in biodiversity is complex, especially when different studies report varying rates, and sometimes even direction of responses. In this study, we used a field-based experimental setup to study how climatic change drives biodiversity in 12 grasslands. We transplanted turfs of whole-vegetation communities in the direction of expected temperature and/or precipitation change (warmer and/or wetter), and followed the changes in vegetation composition during five years. Which species are the winners, who are the losers, and why?

As expected, the way plant communities changed over time was complex and often different between the 12 study locations. Interestingly, we found that change in biodiversity did follow much more general patterns when studied through the lens of plant-plant interactions and plant functional traits. For example, plants that specialize in growing fast in warmer climates were generally better at invading existing communities, whilst mosses played a key role in limiting those new species from entering a community.

In conclusion, we show how a change of perspective can help us form a more general understanding of the direct and indirect effects of climate on biodiversity.

Further reading: 

  • Our study was also featured on the UiB university website (in Norwegian)
  • Read also this insightful commentary piece about the broader scope of this topic, by Jonathan Lenoir
  • And find out how we’re following up on these study results in the project INCLINE

Full citation:

Vandvik, V., O. Skarpaas, K. Klanderud, R. J. Telford, A. H. Halbritter, and D. E. Goldberg. 2020. Biotic rescaling reveals importance of species interactions for variation in biodiversity responses to climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.