Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Record-Breaking Weather At Walden Pond Testing Limits Of Spring-Blooming Plants

Boston University-initiated study shows spring ecosystems keeping pace with warming temps so far

With record-breaking warm spring weather in 2010 and 2012 resulting in the earliest known flowering times in 161 years of recorded history in two U.S. locations, according to a new Boston University-initiated study published today, scientists now are pondering if at some point plants will be unable to successfully keep adapting to a changing climate.

Records kept since 1852 by Henry David Thoreau near Walden Pond in Massachusetts and since 1935 by Aldo Leopold at his Sand County shack in Wisconsin, show that common wildflowers now blossom 20 days earlier and 24 days earlier respectively than in the past. Many plants need a long winter to undergo the physiological changes needed to bloom in the spring. While the researchers said there is no sign plants have hit the limit of their ability to respond to record-breaking warm temperatures, the consequences of earlier flowering for plant productivity, pollinators like bees, and ecosystems in general remain unknown and could be harmful.

“In 2010, plants flowered three weeks earlier than in Thoreau’s time and we thought we’d never see another year like that,” said Boston University biology Prof. Richard Primack, who co-authored the paper, along with BU postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Ellwood and colleagues Charles Davis at Harvard University and Stanley Temple at the University of Wisconsin. “But then two years later we had another record early flowering year both in Massachusetts and in Wisconsin.”

This new study showed that many plants – such as highbush blueberry and the pink lady’s slipper orchid – flowered up to 4.1 days earlier for every degree Celsius rise in mean spring temperatures (2.3 days earlier for every degree F rise in spring temperatures). Significantly, it showed that the historical patterns of early flowering in warm years and later in cold years can predict flowering times even in exceptionally warm years. It also found that the wildflowers just keep flowering earlier as the weather warms.

“While these plants have shown remarkable resilience over decades of changing weather, it is unknown whether plant flowering times will continue on a linear trajectory of earlier flowering, or if at some point plants instead will be unable to keep pace with climate change and just start dying,” said Primack. “Thoreau and Leopold are icons of the American environmental movement and it is astonishing that the records both kept decades ago can be used today to demonstrate the impacts of climate change on plant flowering times.”

The study is published the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

Richard Primack | Newswise
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Don't forget plankton in climate change models, says study
27.11.2015 | University of Exeter

nachricht Using sphere packing models to explain the structure of forests
26.11.2015 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Siemens to supply 126 megawatts to onshore wind power plants in Scotland

27.11.2015 | Press release

Two decades of training students and experts in tracking infectious disease

27.11.2015 | Life Sciences

Coming to a monitor near you: A defect-free, molecule-thick film

27.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>