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The roles of dispersal, fecundity, and predation in the population persistence of an oak (Quercus engelmannii) under global change

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Abstract

A species' response to climate change depends on the interaction of biotic and abiotic factors that define future habitat suitability and species' ability to migrate or adapt. The interactive effects of processes such as fire, dispersal, and predation have not been thoroughly addressed in the climate change literature. Our objective was to examine how life history traits, short-term global change perturbations, and long-term climate change interact to affect the likely persistence of an oak species - Quercus engelmannii (Engelmann oak). Specifically, we combined dynamic species distribution models, which predict suitable habitat, with stochastic, stage-based metapopulation models, which project population trajectories, to evaluate the effects of three global change factors - climate change, land use change, and altered fire frequency - emphasizing the roles of dispersal and seed predation. Our model predicted dramatic reduction in Q. engelmannii abundance, especially under drier climates and increased fire frequency. When masting lowers seed predation rates, decreased masting frequency leads to large abundance decreases. Current rates of dispersal are not likely to prevent these effects, although increased dispersal could mitigate population declines. The results suggest that habitat suitability predictions by themselves may under-estimate the impact of climate change for other species and locations. © 2012 Conlisk et al.

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Conlisk, E., Lawson, D., Syphard, A. D., Franklin, J., Flint, L., Flint, A., & Regan, H. M. (2012). The roles of dispersal, fecundity, and predation in the population persistence of an oak (Quercus engelmannii) under global change. PLoS ONE, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036391

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