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Latitudinal gradients in population growth do not reflect demographic responses to climate


Peterson, Megan et al. (2020), Latitudinal gradients in population growth do not reflect demographic responses to climate, Dryad, Dataset,


Spatial gradients in population growth, such as across latitudinal or elevational gradients, are often assumed to primarily be driven by variation in climate, and are frequently used to infer species’ responses to climate change. Here, we use a novel demographic, mixed model approach to dissect the contributions of climate variables vs. other latitudinal or local site effects on spatiotemporal variation in population performance in three perennial bunchgrasses. For all three species, we find that performance of local populations decreases with warmer and drier conditions, despite latitudinal trends of decreasing population growth towards the cooler and wetter northern portion of each species’ range. Thus, latitudinal gradients in performance are not predictive of either local or species-wide responses to climate. This pattern could be common, as many environmental drivers, such as habitat quality or species’ interactions, are likely to vary with latitude or elevation, and thus influence or oppose climate responses.


Demographic data were collected by monitoring the size, survival, growth, and reproduction of three perennial bunchgrasses at multiple sites from southern Oregon to Washington from 2015-2018.

Usage Notes

Missing values are indicated as 'NA' in the data files. ReadMe tabs in each file include descriptions of the variables. Details of the methods are given in the published paper and supplemental materials. 


National Science Foundation, Award: EF134087