Climate-driven reduction of genetic variation in plant phenology alters soil communities and nutrient pools

Ian M. Ware, Michael E. Van Nuland, Jennifer A. Schweitzer, Zamin Yang, Christopher W. Schadt, Lindsay C. Sidak-Loftis, Nathan E. Stone, Joseph D. Busch, David M. Wagner, Joseph K. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We examined the hypothesis that climate-driven evolution of plant traits will influence associated soil microbiomes and ecosystem function across the landscape. Using a foundation tree species, Populus angustifolia, observational and common garden approaches, and a base population genetic collection that spans 17 river systems in the western United States, from AZ to MT, we show that (a) as mean annual temperature (MAT) increases, genetic and phenotypic variation for bud break phenology decline; (b) soil microbiomes, soil nitrogen (N), and soil carbon (C) vary in response to MAT and conditioning by trees; and (c) with losses of genetic variation due to warming, population-level regulation of community and ecosystem functions strengthen. These results demonstrate a relationship between the potential evolutionary response of populations and subsequent shifts in ecosystem function along a large temperature gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1514-1528
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Populus
  • climate
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • genetic divergence
  • intraspecific variation
  • phenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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