Biology 2012, 1(3), 857-868; doi:10.3390/biology1030857
Article

Using Natural Gradients to Infer a Potential Response to Climate Change: An Example on the Reproductive Performance of Dactylis Glomerata L.

Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova, Viale dell'Università 16, 35020 Legnaro, Padova, Italy
Received: 19 November 2012; in revised form: 5 December 2012 / Accepted: 6 December 2012 / Published: 13 December 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
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Abstract: An understanding of the climate conditions governing spatial variation in the reproductive performance of plants can provide important information about the factors characterizing plant community structure, especially in the context of climate change. This study focuses on the effect of climate on the sexual reproductive output of Dactylis glomerata L., a perennial grass species widely distributed throughout temperate regions. An indirect space-for-time substitution procedure was used. Sixty mountain populations of the same target species were surveyed along an elevation gradient, and then, a relevant climate model was used to infer a potential response to climate change over time. Within each population, information on the number of stems, seed number and seed mass were collected. Resource investment in reproduction (RIR) was quantified as seed number × seed mass. A clear variation was found in the reproductive performance of D. glomerata along the elevational gradient: RIR improved with increasing temperature. The best model included only one term: the maximum temperature of the warmest month. This study demonstrates that mountain ecosystems offer particularly good opportunities to study climate effects over relatively short distances and suggests that warming will enhance D. glomerata’s reproductive output throughout its elevational range. Furthermore, it can be hypothesized that a potential migration of D. glomerata toward higher altitudes may occur in response to accelerated climate change.
Keywords: elevational gradient; grassland; plant traits; precipitation; seed number; seed mass; temperature

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MDPI and ACS Style

Dainese, M. Using Natural Gradients to Infer a Potential Response to Climate Change: An Example on the Reproductive Performance of Dactylis Glomerata L.. Biology 2012, 1, 857-868.

AMA Style

Dainese M. Using Natural Gradients to Infer a Potential Response to Climate Change: An Example on the Reproductive Performance of Dactylis Glomerata L.. Biology. 2012; 1(3):857-868.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Dainese, Matteo. 2012. "Using Natural Gradients to Infer a Potential Response to Climate Change: An Example on the Reproductive Performance of Dactylis Glomerata L.." Biology 1, no. 3: 857-868.

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