Seed origin and warming constrain lodgepole pine recruitment, slowing the pace of population range shifts.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13840
Understanding how climate warming will affect the demographic rates of different ecotypes is critical to predicting shifts in species distributions. Here, we present results from a common garden, climate change experiment in which we measured seedling recruitment of lodgepole pine, a widespread North American conifer that is also planted globally. Seeds from a low-elevation provenance had more than three-fold greater recruitment to their third year than seeds from a high-elevation provenance across sites within and above its native elevation range and across climate manipulations. Heating halved recruitment to the third year of both low- and high-elevation seed sources across the elevation gradient, while watering more than doubled recruitment, alleviating some of the negative effects of heating. Demographic models based on recruitment data from the climate manipulations and long-term observations of adult populations revealed that heating could effectively halt modeled upslope range expansion except when combined with watering. Simulating fire and rapid postfire forest recovery at lower elevations accelerated lodgepole pine expansion into the alpine, but did not alter final abundance rankings among climate scenarios. Regardless of climate scenario, greater recruitment of low-elevation seeds compensated for longer dispersal distances to treeline, assuming colonization was allowed to proceed over multiple centuries. Our results show that ecotypes from lower elevations within a species' range could enhance recruitment and facilitate upslope range shifts with climate change.