Do microenvironments govern macroecology?

Lead Institution: UC Santa Barbara Collaborators: UC Riverside, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, Arizona State University, Conservation Biology Institute, Desert Research Institute, Conservation International

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation Macrosystems Biology Program (2011-2016)

Recent Research News About This Project

VALE Lab post-doc Pep Serra (watched over by Janet Franklin) collecting pine cones for study of climate change effects on tree seedling establishment in California

"ASU researchers model impact of future climate change on forests" link to the story

Project Overview

Example of an experimental garden, Tejon Ranch foothill site

This 5-year research project engages an interdisciplinary team of climate scientists, ecologists, hydrologists and biogeographers to investigate how climate and plant growing conditions vary locally in mountainous areas of the western U.S., and how that local climate variation affects the vulnerability of tree species to regional climate change. Local climate patterns may determine whether plant species persist in a region and whether habitats are sufficiently well connected to allow migration under rapid climate change. Currently, historical climate data and climate models used to forecast future climates are too coarse to show ho

w the terrain redistributes energy and moisture on the landscape at scales that strongly influence the distribution of species. Furthermore, there is scant knowledge of how species colonization and growth differs between local climates or how that 

variation influences regional population abundance. This project combines extensive, local-scale field studies aimed at understanding the influence of microclimate on tree seed germination and initial growth with regional climate modeling and spatial models of plant population and fire dynamics in order to bridge climate and ecological processes from the scale of individual trees to regional populations. Linked climate and plant population models, parameterized with field measurements, will be used simulate changes in regional distribution and abundance of ecologically and economically important tree species under various climate change scenarios in California, a topographically complex and ecologically diverse region. Study sites include a National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) core study site and a U.S. Forest Service Experimental watershed in the central Sierra Nevada, as well as a University of California Natural Reserve in the southern Coast Ranges. Study species include two tree species that currently dominate warm, dry foothill woodlands (blue oak, gray pine) and two species that dominate cool, moist montane forests (black oak, ponderosa pine).

Locations of field sites in California. San Joaquin and Teakettle Experimental Watershed are the foothill and montane sites in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Within the Tehachapi Mountain Range, both the foothill and montane sites are located on Tejon Ranch

Understanding and forecasting climate change effects on tree species is especially important given the role of forests in carbon cycling, timber production, watershed hydrology (water resources), and biodiversity. The insights provided by this research have the potential to revise estimates of extinction risk due to climate change, refine estimates of tree species' ability to track rapid climate change, and deepen our understanding of how economically important tree species will respond to climate change and associated changes in wildfire risk. The research will be closely coordinated with NEON to take advantage of other NEON studies and to supply NEON investigators with valuable local climate, soils and vegetation measurements. At least three doctoral students and three postdoctoral scholars will be trained over the life of the project, preparing the next generation of scientists to tackle future environmental challenges. The project involves governmental and NGO researchers who strengthen research linkages to public and private land managers, policy makers, and non-Government organizations to ensure that research results will be translated to better adaptive management of public and private forest resources in the face of climate change

A description of the goals and design of the study can be found in this publication:

Frank Davis and Lynn Sweet (2012) From mountain microclimates to the macroecology of tree species distributions in California, Mountain Views 6(1):2-5, the newsletter of the Consortium for Integrated Climate Research in Western Mountains (CIRMOUNT) 

Publications (see also Publications)

Franklin, J., Serra-Diaz, J.M., Syphard, A.D., Regan, H.M., 2017, Big data for forecasting global change impacts on plant communities. Global Ecology and Biogeography 26(1):6-17 

Davis, F. W., Sweet, L., Serra-Diaz, J. M., McCullough, I., Dingman, J., Flint, A., Flint, L., Franklin, J., Syphard, A. D., Regan, H. M., Moritz, M. A., Hannah, L., Redmond, K., Hall, A., Sork, V., 2016, Shrinking windows of opportunity for oak seedling establishment in southern California mountains, Ecosphere, 7(11): Article e01573

Serra-Diaz, J. M., Franklin, J., Sweet, L., Syphard, A. D., Dingman, J., McCullough, I., Syphard, A. D., Regan, H. M., Davis, F. W., Flint, A., Flint, L., Moritz, M. A., and Hannah, L., 2016, Averaged 30-year climate change projections mask opportunities for species establishment. Ecography 39(9):844-845. doi: 10.1111/ecog.02074

Serra-Diaz, J. M., Franklin, J., Dillon, W. W., Syphard, A. D., Davis, F. W. and Meentemeyer, R. K., 2016, California forests show early indications of both range shifts and local persistence under climate change. Global Ecology and Biogeography 25:164-175. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12396

Franklin, J., Serra-Diaz, J.M., Syphard, A.D., Regan, H.M., 2016, Global change and terrestrial plant community dynamics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 113(14): 3725-3734 www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1519911113

Reuda-Cediel, P., Anderson, K. E., Regan, H. M., Regan, T. J. and Franklin, J., 2015, Tradeoffs between model choice, data quality and quantity when estimating population trends and extinction risk. PLoS One 10(7):e0132255. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0132255 

Serra-Diaz, J. M., Scheller, R. M., Syphard, A. D. and Franklin, J., 2015, Disturbance and climate microrefugia mediate tree range shifts during climate change, Landscape Ecology  30:1039-1063. DOI 10.1007/s10980-015-0173-9

Franklin, J., Regan, H. M., Syphard, A. D. (2014). Linking spatially explicit species distribution and population models to plan for the persistence of species under global change.  Environmental Conservation 41(2):97-109. doi:10.1017/S0376892913000453

Serra-Diaz, J. M., Franklin, J., Ninyerola, M., Davis, F. W., Syphard, A. D., Regan, H. M. and Ikegami, M., 2014, Bioclimatic velocity: the pace of species exposure to climate change, Diversity & Distributions 20:169-180.  DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12131 

Hannah, L., Flint, L., Syphard, A.D., Moritz, M.A., Buckley, L.B. & McCullough, I.M. (2014) Fine-grain modeling of species’ response to climate change: holdouts, stepping-stones, and microrefugia. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 29, 390-397

Dingman, J.*, Sweet, L.*, McCullough, I., Davis, F.W., Flint, A., Franklin, J., and Flint, L., 2013, Cross-scale modeling of surface temperature and seedling establishment to improve projections of tree species distribution shifts under climate change, Ecological Processes  2:30. DOI: 10.1186/2192-1709-2-30 (Special Issue on Moving Integration Forward to Assess the Impacts of Global Change across Scales and Processes) http://www.ecologicalprocesses.com/content/2/1/30/abstract

Franklin, J., Davis, F. W., Ikagami, M., Syphard, A. D., Flint, A., Flint, L. and Hannah, L. 2013, Modeling plant species distributions under future climates: how fine-scale do climate models need to be? Global Change Biology 19(2):473-483. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12051

Related Publications (see also Publications and California biodiversity)

Beltrán, B., Franklin, J., Syphard, A.D., Regan, H.M., Flint, L.E. & Flint, A.L. (2014) Effects of climate change and urban development on the distribution and conservation of plant functional types in a Mediterranean-type ecosystem. International Journal of Geographic Information Science, 28, 1561-1589

Bonebrake, T.C., Syphard, A.D., Franklin, J., Anderson, K.E., Akçakaya, H.R., Mizerek, T., Winchell, C.S. & Regan, H.M. (2014) Fire Management, Managed Relocation, and Land Conservation Options for Long‐Lived Obligate Seeding Plants under Global Changes in Climate, Urbanization, and Fire Regime. Conservation Biology, 28, 1057-1067.

Syphard, A.D., Regan, H.M., Franklin, J. & Swab, R. (2013) Does functional type vulnerability to multiple threats depend on spatial context in Mediterranean-climate regions? Diversity & Distributions, 19, 1263-1274.

Conlisk, E., Syphard, A.D., Franklin, J., Flint, L., Flint, A. & Regan, H.M. (2013) Management implications of uncertainty in assessing impacts of multiple landscape-scale threats to species persistence using a linked modeling approach. Global Change Biology 3, 858-869

Regan, H.M., Syphard, A.D., Franklin, J., Swab, R.M., Markovchick, L., Flint, A.L., Flint, L.E. & Zedler, P.H. (2012) Evaluation of assisted colonization strategies under global change for a rare, fire-dependent plant. Global Change Biology, 18, 936-947

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, e36391.