Climate Change and Plant Communities on Unusual Soils

Ellen I. Damschen, Susan Harrison, Barbara M. Going and Brian L. Anacker

in Serpentine

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268357
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948457 | DOI:
Climate Change and Plant Communities on Unusual Soils

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This chapter suggests that plant species and communities found on serpentine and other special soils share a number of ecological attributes which may cause them to respond differently to climate change than more typical species and communities in the same regions: (1) They are confined to relatively small and spatially isolated outcrops, where migrating to track the shifting climate will be exceptionally difficult; (2) They occur on infertile soils, where nutrients may be more limiting to plant growth than temperature or water, and where stress-resistant plant traits may confer resistance to climate change; (3) Their distribution and composition are the products of a competitive balance between soil “generalists” and soil “specialists” which are likely to be altered under a changing climate. After elaborating on each of these issues, preliminary evidence is considered from a suite of related studies that compare the responses of serpentine and nonserpentine plant communities to climate change.

Keywords: serpentine soils; serpentine flora; plant communities; climate change

Chapter.  8339 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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