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Germination at Extreme Temperatures: Implications for Alpine Shrub Encroachment

1
Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia
2
Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Acton, ACT 2600, Australia
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Gilbert Neuner, Johanna Wagner and Hans Brix
Plants 2021, 10(2), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10020327
Received: 15 December 2020 / Revised: 20 January 2021 / Accepted: 30 January 2021 / Published: 9 February 2021
Worldwide, shrub cover is increasing across alpine and tundra landscapes in response to warming ambient temperatures and declines in snowpack. With a changing climate, shrub encroachment may rely on recruitment from seed occurring outside of the optimum temperature range. We used a temperature gradient plate in order to determine the germination niche of 14 alpine shrub species. We then related the range in laboratory germination temperatures of each species to long-term average temperature conditions at: (1) the location of the seed accession site and (2) across each species geographic distribution. Seven of the species failed to germinate sufficiently to be included in the analyses. For the other species, the germination niche was broad, spanning a range in temperatures of up to 17 °C, despite very low germination rates in some species. Temperatures associated with the highest germination percentages were all above the range of temperatures present at each specific seed accession site. Optimum germination temperatures were consistently within or higher than the range of maximum temperatures modelled across the species’ geographic distribution. Our results indicate that while some shrub species germinate well at high temperatures, others are apparently constrained by an inherent seed dormancy. Shrub encroachment in alpine areas will likely depend on conditions that affect seed germination at the microsite-scale, despite overall conditions becoming more suitable for shrubs at high elevations. View Full-Text
Keywords: germination niche; temperature gradient plate; climate extremes; conservation management; species geographic range; climate warming; Australia germination niche; temperature gradient plate; climate extremes; conservation management; species geographic range; climate warming; Australia
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MDPI and ACS Style

Venn, S.E.; Gallagher, R.V.; Nicotra, A.B. Germination at Extreme Temperatures: Implications for Alpine Shrub Encroachment. Plants 2021, 10, 327. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10020327

AMA Style

Venn SE, Gallagher RV, Nicotra AB. Germination at Extreme Temperatures: Implications for Alpine Shrub Encroachment. Plants. 2021; 10(2):327. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10020327

Chicago/Turabian Style

Venn, Susanna E.; Gallagher, Rachael V.; Nicotra, Adrienne B. 2021. "Germination at Extreme Temperatures: Implications for Alpine Shrub Encroachment" Plants 10, no. 2: 327. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10020327

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