Significant effects of temperature on the reproductive output of the forest herb **Anemone nemorosa** L.
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Amsterdam :Elsevier science bv
Forest ecology and management. - Amsterdam
Conference on Adaptation of Forests and Forest Management to Changing, Climate with Emphasis on Forest Health, Aug. 25-28, 2008, Umea, Sweden
, p. 809-817
University of Antwerp
Climate warming is already influencing plant migration in different parts of the world. Numerous models have been developed to forecast future plant distributions. Few studies, however, have investigated the potential effect of warming on the reproductive output of plants. Understorey forest herbs in particular, have received little attention in the debate on climate change impacts. This study focuses on the effect of temperature on sexual reproductive output (number of seeds, seed mass, germination percentage and seedling mass) of Anemone nemorosa L., a model species for slow colonizing herbaceous forest plants. We sampled seeds of A. nemorosa in populations along a 2400 km latitudinal gradient from northern France to northern Sweden during three growing seasons (2005,2006 and 2008). This study design allowed us to isolate the effects of accumulated temperature (Growing Degree Hours; GDH) from latitude and the local abiotic and biotic environment. Germination and seed sowing trials were performed in incubators, a greenhouse and under field conditions in a forest. Finally, we disentangled correlations between the different reproductive traits of A. nemorosa along the latitudinal gradient. We found a clear positive relationship between accumulated temperature and seed and seedling traits: reproductive output of A. nemorosa improved with increasing GDH along the latitudinal gradient. Seed mass and seedling mass, for instance, increased by 9.7% and 10.4%, respectively, for every 1000 degrees C h increase in GDH. We also derived strong correlations between several seed and seedling traits both under field conditions and in incubators. Our results indicate that seed mass, incubator-based germination percentage (Germ%(Inc)) and the output of germinable seeds (product of number of seeds and Germ%(Inc) divided by 100) from plants grown along a latitudinal gradient (i.e. at different temperature regimes) provide valuable proxies to parameterize key population processes in models. We conclude that (1) climate warming may have a pronounced positive impact on sexual reproduction of A. nemorosa and (2) climate models forecasting plant distributions would benefit from including the temperature sensitivity of key seed traits and population processes. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.