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Title: The response of forest plant regeneration to temperature variation along a latitudinal gradient
Authors: De Frenne, Pieter ×
Graae, Bente J.
Brunet, Jörg
Shevtsova, Anna
De Schrijver, An
Chabrerie, Olivier
Cousins, Sara A.O.
Decocq, Guillaume
Diekmann, Martin
Hermy, Martin
Heinken, Thilo
Kolb, Annette
Nilsson, Christer
Stanton, Sharon
Verheyen, Kris #
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Published for the Annals of Botany Co. by Academic Press
Series Title: Annals of Botany vol:109 issue:5 pages:1037-1046
Abstract: Background and Aims
The response of forest herb regeneration from seed to temperature variations across latitudes was experimentally assessed in order to forecast the likely response of understorey community dynamics to climate warming.
Methods
Seeds of two characteristic forest plants (Anemone nemorosa and Milium effusum) were collected in natural populations along a latitudinal gradient from northern France to northern Sweden and exposed to three temperature regimes in growth chambers (first experiment). To test the importance of local adaptation, reciprocal transplants were also made of adult individuals that originated from the same populations in three common gardens located in southern, central and northern sites along the same gradient, and the resulting seeds were germinated (second experiment). Seedling establishment was quantified by measuring the timing and percentage of seedling emergence, and seedling biomass in both experiments.
Key Results
Spring warming increased emergence rates and seedling growth in the early-flowering forb A. nemorosa. Seedlings of the summer-flowering grass M. effusum originating from northern populations responded more strongly in terms of biomass growth to temperature than southern populations. The aboveground biomass of the seedlings of both species decreased with increasing latitude of origin, irrespective of whether seeds were collected from natural populations or from the common gardens. The emergence percentage decreased with increasing home-away distance in seeds from the transplant experiment, suggesting that the maternal plants were locally adapted.
Conclusions
Decreasing seedling emergence and growth were found from the centre to the northern edge of the distribution range for both species. Stronger responses to temperature variation in seedling growth of the grass M. effusum in the north may offer a way to cope with environmental change. The results further suggest that climate warming might differentially affect seedling establishment of understorey plants across their distribution range and thus alter future understorey plant dynamics.
ISSN: 0305-7364
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division Forest, Nature and Landscape Research
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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