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Accounting for stochasticity in demographic compensation along the elevational range of an alpine plant

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Marco Andrello, Pierre de Villemereuil, Marta Carboni, Delphine Busson, Marie-Josée Fortin, Oscar Eduardo Gaggiotti, Irène Till-Bottraud

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Demographic compensation arises when vital rates change in opposite directions across populations, buffering the variation in population growth rates, and is a mechanism often invoked to explain the stability of species geographic ranges. However, studies on demographic compensation have disregarded the effects of temporal variation in vital rates and their temporal correlations, despite theoretical evidence that stochastic dynamics can affect population persistence in temporally varying environments. We carried out a seven‐year‐long demographic study on the perennial plant Arabis alpina (L.) across six populations encompassing most of its elevational range. We discovered demographic compensation in the form of negative correlations between the means of plant vital rates, but also between their temporal coefficients of variation, correlations and elasticities. Even if their contribution to demographic compensation was small, this highlights a previously overlooked, but potentially important, role of stochastic processes in stabilising population dynamics at range margins.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)870-880
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number5
Early online date26 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • Arabis alpina, Brassicaceae, Elasticity, Elevation, Population dynamics, Stochasticity

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