Intraspecific responses to climate reveal nonintuitive warming impacts on a widespread thermophilic conifer
Di Matteo, Giovanni
Chambel, Maria Regina
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Summary: Many ecologically important forest trees from dry areas have been insufficiently investigated for their ability to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change, which hampers the implementation of mitigation policies. We analyzed 14 common‐garden experiments across the Mediterranean which studied the widespread thermophilic conifer Pinus halepensis and involved 157 populations categorized into five ecotypes. Ecotype‐specific tree height responses to climate were applied to projected climate change (2071-2100 ad), to project potential growth patterns both locally and across the species' range. We found contrasting ecotypic sensitivities to annual precipitation but comparatively uniform responses to mean temperature, while evidence of local adaptation for tree height was limited to mesic ecotypes. We projected intriguing patterns of response range‐wide, implying either height inhibition or stimulation of up to 75%, and deduced that the ecotype currently experiencing more favorable (wetter) conditions will show the largest inhibition. Extensive height reductions can be expected for coastal areas of France, Greece, Spain and northern Africa. Our findings underline the fact that intraspecific variations in sensitivity to precipitation must be considered when projecting tree height responses of dry forests to future climate. The ecotype‐specific projected performances call for management activities to ensure forest resilience in the Mediterranean through, for example, tailored deployment strategies.