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Global change re-structures alpine plant communities under 15 years of warming, nitrogen, and snow addition: disentangling density independent and dependent effects
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  • Courtney Collins,
  • Sarah Elmendorf,
  • Jane Smith,
  • Lauren Shoemaker,
  • Megan Szojka,
  • Margaret Swift,
  • Katharine Suding
Courtney Collins
The University of British Columbia

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Sarah Elmendorf
University of Colorado Boulder
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Jane Smith
University of Colorado
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Lauren Shoemaker
University of Wyoming
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Megan Szojka
University of Wyoming
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Margaret Swift
Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment
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Katharine Suding
University of Colorado Boulder
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Global change is altering patterns of community assembly, with net outcomes dependent on species’ responses to the environment, both directly and mediated through biotic interactions. Here, we assess alpine plant community responses in a 15-year factorial nitrogen addition, warming and snow manipulation experiment. We used a dynamic competition model to estimate the density-dependent and independent processes underlying changes in species-group abundances over time. Density-dependent shifts in competitive interactions drove long-term changes in abundance of species-groups under global change. Density-independent processes were important when counteracting environmental drivers limited the growth response of the dominant species. Furthermore, competitive interactions shifted with environmental change, primarily with nitrogen, and drove non-linear abundance responses across environmental gradients. Our results highlight that global change can either reshuffle species hierarchies or further favor already dominant species; predicting which outcome will occur requires incorporating both density-dependent and independent mechanisms and how they interact across multiple global change factors.
20 Dec 2021Submitted to Ecology Letters
03 Jan 2022Submission Checks Completed
03 Jan 2022Assigned to Editor
07 Jan 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
29 Jan 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
31 Jan 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
30 Apr 20221st Revision Received
05 May 2022Submission Checks Completed
05 May 2022Assigned to Editor
05 May 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
16 May 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 May 2022Editorial Decision: Accept