Macroscale intraspecific variation and environmental heterogeneity: analysis of cold and warm zone abundance, mortality, and regeneration distributions of four eastern US tree species
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Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1752. 16 p.
I test for macroscale intraspecific variation of abundance, mortality, and regeneration of four eastern US tree species (Tsuga canadensis, Betula lenta, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Quercus prinus) by splitting them into three climatic zones based on plant hardiness zones (PHZs). The primary goals of the analysis are to assess the differences in environmental heterogeneity and demographic responses among climatic zones, map regional species groups based on decision tree rules, and evaluate univariate and multivariate patterns of species demography with respect to environmental variables. I use the Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) data to derive abundance, mortality, and regeneration indices and split the range into three climatic zones based on USDA PHZs: (1) cold adapted, leading region; (2) middle, well-adapted region; and (3) warm adapted, trailing region. I employ decision tree ensemble methods to assess the importance of environmental predictors on the abundance of the species between the cold and warm zones and map zonal variations in species groups. Multivariate regression trees are used to simultaneously explore abundance, mortality, and regeneration in tandem to assess species vulnerability. Analyses point to the relative importance of climate in the warm adapted, trailing zone (especially moisture) compared to the cold adapted, leading zone. Higher mortality and lower regeneration patterns in the warm trailing zone point to its vulnerability to growing season temperature and precipitation changes that could figure more prominently in the future. This study highlights the need to account for intraspecific variation of demography in order to understand environmental heterogeneity and differential adaptation. It provides a methodology for assessing the vulnerability of tree species by delineating climatic zones based on easily available PHZ data, and FIA derived abundance, mortality, and regeneration indices as a proxy for overall growth and fitness. Based on decision tree rules, ecologically meaningful variations in species abundance among the climatic zones can be related to environmental variability and mapped.
KeywordsClimate change climatic zones decision-tree-based ensemble methods eco-evolutionary processes Forest Inventory Analysis intraspecific variation local adaptation plant hardiness zones
Prasad, Anantha M. 2015. Macroscale intraspecific variation and environmental heterogeneity: analysis of cold and warm zone abundance, mortality, and regeneration distributions of four eastern US tree species. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1752. 16 p. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1752.