Direct effects dominate responses to climate perturbations in grassland plant communities

Chengjin Chu, Andrew R. Kleinhesselink, Kris M. Havstad, Mitchel P. McClaran, Debra P. Peters, Lance T. Vermeire, Haiyan Wei, Peter B. Adler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Theory predicts that strong indirect effects of environmental change will impact communities when niche differences between competitors are small and variation in the direct effects experienced by competitors is large, but empirical tests are lacking. Here we estimate negative frequency dependence, a proxy for niche differences, and quantify the direct and indirect effects of climate change on each species. Consistent with theory, in four of five communities indirect effects are strongest for species showing weak negative frequency dependence. Indirect effects are also stronger in communities where there is greater variation in direct effects. Overall responses to climate perturbations are driven primarily by direct effects, suggesting that single species models may be adequate for forecasting the impacts of climate change in these communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11766
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jun 8 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Direct effects dominate responses to climate perturbations in grassland plant communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this