Contrasting growth changes in two dominant species of a mediterranean shrubland submitted to experimental drought and warming

Laura Llorens, Josep Peñuelas, Marc Estiarte, Paula Bruna

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    90 Citations (Scopus)


    • Background and Aims: Climate projections predict drier and warmer conditions in the Mediterranean basin in the next decades. The possibility of such climatic changes modifying the growth of two Mediterranean species, Erica multiflora and Globularia alypum, which are common components of Mediterranean shrublands, was assessed. • Methods: A field experiment was performed from March 1999 to March 2002 to prolong the drought period and to increase the night-time temperature in a Mediterranean shrubland, where E. multiflora and G. alypum are the dominant species. Annual growth in stem diameter and length of both species was measured and annual stem biomass production was estimated for 1999, 2000 and 2001. Plant seasonal growth was also assessed. • Key Results: On average, drought treatment reduced soil moisture 22 %, and warming increased temperature by 0.7-1.6°C. Erica multiflora plants in the drought treatment showed a 46 % lower annual stem elongation than controls. The decrease in water availability also reduced by 31 % the annual stem diameter increment and by 43 % the annual stem elongation of G. alypum plants. New shoot growth of G. alypum was also strongly reduced. Allometrically estimated biomass production was decreased by drought in both species. Warming treatment produced contrasting effects on the growth patterns of these species. Warmer conditions increased, on average, the stem basal diameter growth of E. multiflora plants by 35 %, raising also their estimated stem biomass production. On the contrary, plants of G. alypum in the warming treatment showed a 14 % lower annual stem growth in basal diameter and shorter new shoots in spring compared with controls. • Conclusions: The results indicate changes in the annual productivity of these Mediterranean shrubs under near future drier and warmer conditions. They also point to alterations in their competitive abilities, which could lead to changes in the species composition of these ecosystems in the long term. © 2004 Annals of Botany Company.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)843-853
    JournalAnnals of Botany
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2004


    • Biomass
    • Climate change
    • Drought
    • Erica multiflora
    • Globularia alypum
    • Growth
    • Mediterranean species
    • Warming


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