Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wildflower declines in Thoreau's Concord woods are due to climate changes

28.10.2008
Boston University and Harvard University researchers have established for the first time that a study of evolutionary relatedness among plant populations is critical when considering the patterns of species loss due to climate change.

Rapid changes in temperature which have led to changes in the timing of seasonal activities, such as flowering, make some closely related groups of species – notably orchids, dogwoods, lilies and many sunflower relatives -- more susceptible to swift declines than others.

These cautionary findings were developed based on a continuing study of 473 species in the fields, wetlands and deciduous forest of Concord, Massachusetts where changes in flowering times were first inventoried by Henry David Thoreau 156 years ago and regularly updated since then.

A phylogenetic or evolutionary context now provides an important predictive value for thinking about which plant species will be lost due to rapid climate change, noted Boston University conservation biologist Richard Primack. He is an author of the research study titled "Phylogenetic patterns of species loss in Thoreau's woods are driven by climate change," that appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online today.

Since 2002, he and his students have actively tracked how warming temperatures have shifted the flowering times of plant species in the woods at Walden Pond and elsewhere in Concord. . They now find that wildflower species are also declining and being lost due to climate change.

The other authors are Charles G. Willis, Brad Ruhfel and Charles C. Davis of the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at the Harvard University Herbaria along with Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, formerly of Boston University's Department of Biology.

They concluded that the climate-influenced loss of plant diversity has been so great in Concord, despite 60% of the area being well protected or underdeveloped since Thoreau's time, that a global approach to conservation prioritization is necessary to minimize future species loss. And conservation strategies will require information both on the current ecology of the species as well as their past evolutionary history.

Their study, which examines changes in species abundance and habitat along with two separate measures of flowering time response to temperature, notes that since Thoreau's time species flower an average of seven days earlier. Moreover, the mean temperature in the Concord area has risen 2.4 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years and is expected to climb between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius during the next 100 years. These temperature changes are linked to flowering times.

"Species whose flowering time are not responsive to changes in temperature are decreasing in abundance," the study states. "Most strikingly, species with the ability to track short-term seasonable temperature variation have faired significantly better under recent warming trends. In addition, species whose flowering times have shifted to be earlier in the years over the long-term have also fared significantly better under recent warming trends. Based on our regression estimates, change in abundance over the last 100 years is greatest when assessed against species' ability to track short-term seasonal temperature versus long-term flowering shifts. Thus, the association between flowering time tracking and change in abundance is a better estimator of species response to rising temperatures."

The study also accounted for other plant life cycle influences such as the lack of available insect pollinators or the increased flower or seed predation. The authors found the phonological response to insects may correlate with seasonable temperatures. This suggests that plant species that respond to temperature changes may be better at maintaining important periodic interactions with pollinators or better at avoiding negative interactions such as predation.

The population declines of specific flowering species – those that did not respond to temperature – included anemones and buttercups, asters and campanulas, bluets, bladderworts, dogwoods, lilies, mints, orchids, roses, saxifrages and violets.

Ronald Rosenberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>