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Lower plasticity exhibited by high- versus mid-elevation species in their phenological responses to manipulated temperature and drought

Gugger, Simona and Kesselring, Halil and Stöcklin, Jürg and Hamann, Elena. (2015) Lower plasticity exhibited by high- versus mid-elevation species in their phenological responses to manipulated temperature and drought. Annals of Botany, 116 (6). pp. 953-962.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:
Recent global changes, particularly warming and drought, have had worldwide repercussions on the timing of flowering events for many plant species. Phenological shifts have also been reported in alpine environments, where short growing seasons and low temperatures make reproduction particularly challenging, requiring fine-tuning to environmental cues. However, it remains unclear if species from such habitats, with their specific adaptations, harbour the same potential for phenological plasticity as species from less demanding habitats.
METHODS:
Fourteen congeneric species pairs originating from mid and high elevation were reciprocally transplanted to common gardens at 1050 and 2000 m a.s.l. that mimic prospective climates and natural field conditions. A drought treatment was implemented to assess the combined effects of temperature and precipitation changes on the onset and duration of reproductive phenophases. A phenotypic plasticity index was calculated to evaluate if mid- and high-elevation species harbour the same potential for plasticity in reproductive phenology.
KEY RESULTS:
Transplantations resulted in considerable shifts in reproductive phenology, with highly advanced initiation and shortened phenophases at the lower (and warmer) site for both mid- and high-elevation species. Drought stress amplified these responses and induced even further advances and shortening of phenophases, a response consistent with an 'escape strategy'. The observed phenological shifts were generally smaller in number of days for high-elevation species and resulted in a smaller phenotypic plasticity index, relative to their mid-elevation congeners.
CONCLUSIONS:
While mid- and high-elevation species seem to adequately shift their reproductive phenology to track ongoing climate changes, high-elevation species were less capable of doing so and appeared more genetically constrained to their specific adaptations to an extreme environment (i.e. a short, cold growing season).
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Pflanzenökologie (Körner)
UniBasel Contributors:Stöcklin, Jürg and Kesselring, Halil and Hamann, Elena and Gugger, Simona
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0305-7364
e-ISSN:1095-8290
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:13 Nov 2017 16:14
Deposited On:04 Aug 2016 09:02

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