There is an urgent need to synthesize the state of our knowledge on plant responses to climate. The availability of open-access data provide opportunities to examine quantitative generalizations regarding which biomes and species are most responsive to climate drivers. Here, we synthesize time series of structured population models from 162 populations of 62 plants, mostly herbaceous species from temperate biomes, to link plant population growth rates (λ) to precipitation and temperature drivers. We expect: (1) more pronounced demographic responses to precipitation than temperature, especially in arid biomes; and (2) a higher climate sensitivity in short-lived rather than long-lived species. We find that precipitation anomalies have a nearly three-fold larger effect on λ than temperature. Species with shorter generation time have much stronger absolute responses to climate anomalies. We conclude that key species-level traits can predict plant population responses to climate, and discuss the relevance of this generalization for conservation planning.
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© 2021, The Author(s).