- We need methods of selecting tree species which will thrive in future urban climates.
- Climate envelope analysis may help with species selection.
- We tried to predict drought and thermal tolerance from species climate envelopes
- But we found no strong links between climate envelopes and species tolerance
Analysing the climate envelope of plant species has been suggested as a tool to predict the vulnerability of tree species in future urban climates. However, there is little evidence that the climate envelope of a plant species directly relates to the drought and thermal tolerance of that species, at least not at the resolution required to identify or rank species vulnerability. Here, we attempted to predict drought and thermal tolerance of commonly used urban tree species using climate variables derived exclusively from open-source global occurrence data. We quantified three drought and thermal tolerance traits for 43 urban tree species in a common garden experiment: stomatal sensitivity to vapour pressure deficit, leaf water potential at the turgor loss point, and leaf thermal tolerance. We then attempted to predict each tolerance trait from variables derived from the climate envelope of each species, using occurrence data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. We found no strong relationships between drought and thermal tolerance traits and climatic variables. Across wide environmental gradients, plant tolerance and climate are inherently linked. But our results suggest that climate envelopes determined from species occurrence data alone may not predict drought or thermal tolerance at the resolution required to select tree species for future urban forests. We should focus on identifying the most relevant strategies and traits required to describe tolerance which in combination with climate envelope analysis should ultimately predict growth and mortality of trees in urban landscapes.
We were unable to predict the drought and thermal tolerance of common urban tree species using climate variables based on their global distribution.