Climate change and the decline of a foundation tree species

A worldwide increase in tree decline and mortality has been linked to climate change, and where these represent foundation species this can have important implications for ecosystem functions.

Tree and climate

Dalmaris et al. undertake phylogeographic analyses across the species range of Eucalyptus wandoo, an endemic tree of south-western Australia, and find that a combination of phylogeography and paleo-distribution modelling can provide an evolutionary context for climate-driven tree decline, as both can be used to cross-validate evidence for refugia and contraction under harsh climatic conditions. The contraction of E. wandoo from lower rainfall areas is consistent with current observations of decline on the semi-arid margin of the range, and indicates low capacity to tolerate forecast climatic change.

This article appears in the special issue Plants and Climate Change.