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Effects of a warmer climate on seed germination in the Subarctic
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Climate Impacts Research Centre, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, SE-98107 Abisko, Sweden)
Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium .
Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Wilrijk, Belgium.
2009 (English)In: Annals of Botany, ISSN 0305-7364, E-ISSN 1095-8290, Vol. 104, 287-296 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background and Aims In a future warmer subarctic climate, the soil temperatures experienced by dispersed seeds are likely to increase during summer but may decrease during winter due to expected changes in snow depth, duration and quality. Because little is known about the dormancy-breaking and germination requirements of subarctic species, how warming may influence the timing and level of germination in these species was examined. Methods Under controlled conditions, how colder winter and warmer summer soil temperatures influenced germination was tested in 23 subarctic species. The cold stratification and warm incubation temperatures were derived from real soil temperature measurements in subarctic tundra and the temperatures were gradually changed over time to simulate different months of the year. Key Results Moderate summer warming (+ 2.5 °C) substantially accelerated germination in all but four species but did not affect germination percentages. Optimum germination temperatures (20/10 °C) further decreased germination time and increased germination percentages in three species. Colder winter soil temperatures delayed the germination in ten species and decreased the germination percentage in four species, whereas the opposite was found in Silene acaulis. In most species, the combined effect of a reduced snow cover and summer warming resulted in earlier germination and thus a longer first growing season, which improves the chance of seedling survival. In particular the recruitment of (dwarf ) shrubs (Vaccinium myrtillus, V. vitis-idaea, Betula nana), trees (Alnus incana, Betula pubescens) and grasses (Calamagrostis lapponica, C. purpurea) is likely to benefit from a warmer subarctic climate. Conclusions Seedling establishment is expected to improve in a future warmer subarctic climate, mainly by considerably earlier germination. The magnitudes of the responses are species-specific, which should be taken into account when modelling population growth and migration of subarctic species.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2009. Vol. 104, 287-296 p.
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Ecology Climate Research
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-25542DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcp117OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-25542DiVA: diva2:232028
Available from: 2009-08-19 Created: 2009-08-19 Last updated: 2011-12-06Bibliographically approved

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Milbau, Ann

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