Data_Sheet_2_Disequilibrium in Trait-Climate Relationships of Trees and Birds.docx (666.16 kB)
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Data_Sheet_2_Disequilibrium in Trait-Climate Relationships of Trees and Birds.docx

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posted on 30.04.2019, 04:13 by Brody Sandel

Climate change is expected to drive changes in the structure of ecological assemblages, but these responses might show considerable time lags. If these lags are large, then the observed composition of assemblages will fall out of equilibrium with current climatic conditions. This disequilibrium has several expected signatures, including trends in the magnitude of climate relationships through time and stronger climate relationships across space than through time. Here, I describe spatial and temporal patterns of functional assemblage composition of birds and trees and ask whether there is evidence of disequilibrium between climate and functional assemblage structure. I used bird assemblage data from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and tree data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program (FIA), in both cases spanning the continental United States and covering the time period 1970–2016. To describe functional assemblage composition, I used the community weighted means of five functional traits for trees and six traits for birds, and fit linear models to explain the variation in composition through time and across space. For most traits, spatial relationships were much stronger than temporal relationships, consistent with lagged responses of assemblages to climate change. Several of the traits showed trends over the study period, in some cases associated with trends in mean annual temperature. Others showed dynamics in the spatial relationships between climate and trait values. For example, the mean clutch size of birds depended only weakly on temperature in the early study period, but the relationship became strongly negative by 2016. While precipitation was often an important predictor of spatial patterns of functional composition, it was typically weakly correlated with the temporal patterns. This likely reflects the fact that temperature experienced more consistent long-term trends over the study period, whereas large year-to-year fluctuations in precipitation prevent composition from ever coming into equilibrium with precipitation in a particular year. Overall, there was substantial evidence of disequilibrium between functional assemblage composition and climate.