CR 60:63-71 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01219

A transplantation experiment along climatic gradients suggests limitations of experimental warming manipulations

Sabrina Backhaus1,*, Juergen Kreyling2, Carl Beierkuhnlein2, Constanze Buhk3, Laura Nagy1,4, Daniel Thiel2,5, Anke Jentsch1

1Department of Disturbance Ecology, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
2Department of Biogeography, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
3Geoecology/Physical Geography, University of Koblenz-Landau, 76829 Landau, Germany
4Institute for Landscape Biogeochemistry, Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research, 15374 Müncheberg, Germany
5Bavarian Office for Forest Seeding and Planting, 83317 Teisendorf, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Transplantation to a warmer site and experimental passive warming are powerful tools for predicting plant responses to climate change. Both techniques are widely applied for the study of plant species and community response to temperature increase. We investigated differences in height increment of Fagus sylvatica seedlings between 2 different techniques: experimental warming (passive warming) and transplantation to a warmer site. Additionally, the plants were exposed to an extreme drought to further examine the influence of the different warming techniques in combination with an additional climatic driver. We found significant differences between the 2 warming techniques for height increment, which were mainly attributed to the case with additional drought exposure (significant interaction between warming and drought). Surprisingly, when subjected to drought, experimental warming had no negative effect on height increment of seedlings, while transplantation decreased height increment by 32% when subjected to drought. Growth did not show a linear dependence on the magnitude of warming. Differences between the warming techniques can therefore not be explained by differences in realized temperature increases. The results of this study emphasize the complexity of simulating global warming, as required for accurate prediction of shifts in plant performance. The role of co-varying parameters, such as evapotranspiration, photosynthetically active radiation, and wind speed, in addition to experimental temperature increases should be acknowledged when analyzing ecological responses to climate warming.


KEY WORDS: Beech · EVENT experiment · Experimental manipulation · Global warming


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Cite this article as: Backhaus S, Kreyling J, Beierkuhnlein C, Buhk C, Nagy L, Thiel D, Jentsch A (2014) A transplantation experiment along climatic gradients suggests limitations of experimental warming manipulations. Clim Res 60:63-71. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01219

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