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A tale of two species: climate-competition tradeoffs shape range limits according to tree life-history strategies
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  • Jonathan Schurman,
  • Pavel Janda,
  • Milos Rydval,
  • Martin Mikolas,
  • Miroslav Svoboda,
  • Flurin Babst
Jonathan Schurman
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
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Pavel Janda
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
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Milos Rydval
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
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Martin Mikolas
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
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Miroslav Svoboda
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
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Flurin Babst
The University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and the Environment
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Abstract

Adapting for competitiveness versus climatic stress tolerance constitutes a primary trade-off differentiating tree life-history strategies. This tradeoff likely influences where species’ range-limits occur, but such links are data-demanding to study and key mechanisms lack empirical support. Using an exceptionally rich dendroecological network, we assessed spatial variation in climate and competition effects on Picea abies and Fagus sylvatica throughout the Carpathian Ecoregion. Ring width synchrony aided in diagnosing how the prevalence of resource-limited (competition) and sink-limited (climate) growth changes with altitude and community composition. Contrasting growth patterns towards respective upper and lower range limits of Fagus and Picea reflected tradeoffs between competitive vs. cold-tolerant strategies. Fagus performance declined with altitudinal increases in climate sensitivity, but improved under interspecific competition. Picea growth increased towards the species’ lower range limit, but declined under interspecific competition. Warmer temperatures likely benefit competitively stronger species at mid elevations and thus imply range reductions for alpine conifers.