Effects of climate warming and prolonged snow cover on phenology of the early life history stages of four alpine herbs on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau

Guoyan Wang, Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin, Xuejun Yang, Guofang Liu, Xuehua Ye, Xinshi Zhang, Zhenying Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Premise of the Study: Much research has focused on plant responses to ongoing climate change, but there is relatively little information about how climate change will affect the early plant life history stages. Understanding how global warming and changes in winter snow pattern will affect seed germination and seedling establishment is crucial for predicting future alpine population and vegetation dynamics. Methods: In a 2-year study, we tested how warming and alteration in the snowmelt regime, both in isolation and combination, influence seedling emergence phenology, first-year growth, biomass allocation, and survival of four native alpine perennial herbs on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. Key Results: Warming promoted seedling emergence phenology of all four species and biomass per plant of two species but reduced seedling survival of three species. Prolonged snow cover partly mediated the affects of warming on Primula alpicola (survival and biomass), Pedicularis fletcheri (phenology, biomass, and root:shoot ratio) and Meconopsis integrifolia (survival). For the narrowly distributed species M. racemosa, seedling growth was additively decreased by warming and prolonged snow cover. Conclusions: Both warming and alteration of the snow cover regime can influence plant recruitment by affecting seedling phenology, growth, and survival, and the effects are largely species-specific. Thus, climate change is likely to affect population dynamics and community structure of the alpine ecosystem. This is the first experimental demonstration of the phenological advancement of seedling emergence in the field by simulated climate warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-976
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Volume105
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Botanical Society of America

Keywords

  • Meconopsis
  • Pedicularis
  • Primula
  • germination phenology
  • global warming
  • plant recruitment
  • seedling growth
  • seedling survival
  • snowmelt regime

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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