The upward shift of pine mistletoe (Viscum album ssp. austriacum) in Switzerland. The result of climate warming?

WSL Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmendsorf, Switzerland.
International Journal of Biometeorology (Impact Factor: 3.25). 10/2005; 50(1):40-7. DOI: 10.1007/s00484-005-0263-5
Source: PubMed


Pine mistletoe (Viscum album ssp. austriacum) is common in natural Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forests in the alpine Rhone Valley, Switzerland. This semi-parasite, which is regarded as an indicator species for temperature, increases the drought stress on trees and may contribute to the observed pine decline in the region. We recorded mistletoes on representative plots of the Swiss National Forest Inventory ranging from 450 to 1,550 m a.s.l. We found mistletoe on 37% of the trees and on 56% of all plots. Trees infested with mistletoe had a significantly higher mortality rate than non-infested trees. We compared the current mistletoe occurrence with records from a survey in 1910. The current upper limit, 1,250 m, is roughly 200 m above the limit of 1,000-1,100 m found in the earlier survey 100 years ago. Applying a spatial model to meteorological data we obtained monthly mean temperatures for all sites. In a logistic regression mean winter temperature, pine proportion and geographic exposition significantly explained mistletoe occurrence. Using mean monthly January and July temperatures for 1961-1990, we calculated Skre's plant respiration equivalent (RE) and regressed it against elevation to obtain the RE value at the current mistletoe elevation limit. We used this RE value and temperature from 1870-1899 in the regression and found the past elevation limit to be at 1,060 m, agreeing with the 1910 survey. For the predicted temperature rise by 2030, the limit for mistletoe would increase above 1,600 m altitude.

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    • "Albeit not considered epiphytes, arboreal hemiparasites can also form important components of the canopy in montane forests. All previous records of high-elevation arboreal hemiparasites pertain to the mistletoe family Loranthaceae (2,800 m in the Himalaya, Devkota et al. 2010; 1,250 m in Europe, Dobbertin et al. 2005) with the highest elevational record held by a number of Tristerix species from Peru documented at 4,000–4,500 m (Brako and Zarucchi 1993). All members of Loranthaceae form direct contacts with their hosts by means of haustoria, but those which are hemiparasitic also have chlorophyllous leaves which allow them to photosynthesise. "
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    ABSTRACT: The highest elevation epiphytic vascular plant flora ever recorded on a worldwide basis is described from the Cordillera Vilcabamba, southern Peruvian Andes. Three species of fern (Melpomene, Polypodium: Polypodiaceae) were recorded from Polylepis pepei forests at elevations above 4,250 m, with Melpomene peruviana reaching almost 4,550 m. A new high-elevation world record for arboreal hemiparasites is also documented, with Tristerix longebracteatus (Loranthaceae) being found at c.4,620 m. Climatic conditions of these sites were assessed and are discussed in the light of existing hypotheses on the abiotic conditions limiting epiphytism.
    Alpine Botany 05/2014; 124(2). DOI:10.1007/s00035-014-0130-2 · 1.46 Impact Factor
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    • "The upper elevation limit of pine mistletoe (Viscum album subsp. austriacum) in the Rhone Valley of Switzerland rose 200 m in the past century, and during this period the mean winter temperature increased by 1.6°C (Dobbertin et al. 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The plant pathogenic fungus, Sphaeropsis visci a dark-spored species of Botryosphaeriaceae, which causes the leaf spot disease of the European mistletoe (Viscum album). This species seems to have potential as a tool for biological control of the hemiparasite. For the rapid detection of S. visci haplotypes we tested a direct PCR assay without prior DNA purification. This approach was based on a polymerase enzyme from the crenarchaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus engineered by fusion protein technology, which linked the polymerase domain to a sequence non-specific DNA binding protein (Sso7d). Findings Most isolates of Sphaeropsis visci grouped together in our phylogenetic analyses, indicating that isolates had a previously reported haplotype sequence, which is commonly found in the analyzed Hungarian population. This haplotype was also reported from diseased mistletoe bushes from other European countries. We further identified unique single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the ITS region, which were specific to the only well resolved clade in the phylogenetic analysis. Conclusions The diPCR approach allowed amplification of ITS rRNA gene directly from small amounts of fungal samples without prior DNA extraction. This simple bioassay in plant disease management enables collection of genomic data from fungal plant pathogen populations.
    SpringerPlus 01/2014; 3(1). DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-3-569
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    • "There are three possible fates for populations in a rapidly changing environment: persistence through migration to track ecological niches spatially, persistence through adaptation to new conditions in current locations, and local extinction (Aitken et al., 2008). For forest trees, latitudinal and elevational shifts in species ranges have already been recorded in response to climate change (Root et al., 2003; Dobbertin et al., 2005; Hickling et al., 2006; Pauli et al., 2007).However, although species ranges are often viewed as relatively homogeneous , the consequences of changing environmental conditions will differ throughout a species' distribution due to phenotypic plasticity or local adaptations to specific environmental conditions (Howe et al., 2003; Jump and Peñuelas, 2005; Savolainen et al., 2007, 2011). Numerous experiments have revealed high inter-population levels of genetic variation for quantitative traits related to adaptation, geographical structuring of that variation along climatic gradients, and genotype×environment interaction, providing strong evidence of local adaptation of populations to climate (reviewed by Savolainen et al., 2007; Aitken et al., 2008; Reich and Oleksyn, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Ongoing changes in global climate are having a significant impact on the distribution of plant species, with effects particularly evident at range limits. We assessed the capacity of Pinus sylvestris L. populations at northernmost and southernmost limits of the distribution to cope with projected changes in climate. We investigated responses including seed germination and early seedling growth and survival, using seeds from northernmost (Kevo, Finland) and southernmost (Granada, Spain) populations. Seeds were grown under current climate conditions in each area and under temperatures increased by 5 °C, with changes in precipitation of +30% or -30% with reference to current values at northern and southern limits, respectively, in a fully factorial controlled-conditions experimental design. Increased temperatures reduced germination time and enhanced biomass gain at both range edges but reduced survival at the southern range edge. Higher precipitation also increased survival and biomass but only under a southern climate. Seeds from the southern origin emerged faster, produced bigger seedlings, allocated higher biomass to roots, and survived better than northern ones. These results indicate that recruitment will be reduced at the southernmost range of the species, whereas it will be enhanced at the northern limit, and that the southern seed sources are better adapted to survive under drier conditions. However, future climate will impose a trade-off between seedling growth and survival probabilities. At the southern range edge, higher growth may render individuals more susceptible to mortality where greater aboveground biomass results in greater water loss through evapotranspiration.
    Journal of Experimental Botany 11/2013; 65(1). DOI:10.1093/jxb/ert376 · 5.53 Impact Factor
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