High-elevation plants have reduced plastictiy in flowering time in response to warming compared to low-elevation congeners

Schmid, Sophie F. and Stöcklin, Jürg and Hamann, Elena and Kesselring, Halil. (2017) High-elevation plants have reduced plastictiy in flowering time in response to warming compared to low-elevation congeners. Basic and Applied Ecology, 21. pp. 1-12.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/59552/

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Global warming has caused shifts in the flowering time of many plant species. In alpine regions the temperature rise has been especially pronounced and together with decreasing winter precipitation has led to earlier snowmelt. The close association between time of snowmelt and plant growth at high elevations makes climate change for alpine plants particularly threatening. Here we transplanted eleven congeneric pairs of high- and low-elevation herbaceous species to common gardens differing c. 800 m in elevation, and c. 4 °C in mean growing season temperature to test whether reproductive phenologies of high- and low-elevation plants differ in their respective responses to temperature. Results indicate that high-elevation plants were less plastic in response to transplantation than their low-elevation congeners as the onsets of phenophases on average shifted 7 days less than in low-elevation plants. Plasticity of phenophase durations was overall weaker than that of phenophase onsets, and slightly stronger in high-elevation species compared to low-elevation congeners. We suggest that weaker plasticity in the onsets of early stages of reproductive phenology of high-elevation plants is related to spring frost, which constitutes a strong selective agent against early loss of winter hardiness. Some of the plastic responses of both low- and high-elevation species might potentially be adaptive under predicted climate change. However, the observed plasticity can be largely explained as a passive response to temperature and not as the result of natural selection in heterogeneous environments. The strong temperature-sensitivity of low-elevation species might promote their upward range expansion, but only to a certain threshold after which it becomes limited by the short growing season.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Umweltwissenschaften > Population Biology (Stöcklin)
UniBasel Contributors:Stöcklin, Jürg and Hamann, Elena and Kesselring, Halil
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:09 Sep 2020 08:15
Deposited On:09 Sep 2020 08:15

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