Special Issue "Climate Change Impacts on Alpine and Polar Plants"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Nicoletta Cannone

Università degli Studi dell'Insubria, Department of Science and High Technology, Varese, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: climate change; plant diversity; flora and vegetation; alpine and polar environments; CO2 fluxes; plant phenology; manipulative experiments; environmental change; cryosphere; paleoclimate and species biogeography

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Alpine and Polar environments are characterized by unique biodiversity and have been recognized as the most vulnerable systems on the planet to climate change impacts, and, for this reason, they constitute a priority for research. Climate change impacts are already evident in Alpine and Polar regions, affecting the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems, with special emphasis on plants, as they provide the frame for the development of the food web, play a key role in the biogeochemical cycles, and ecosystem services through their interaction both with soils and atmosphere. The responses of Alpine and Polar plants to climate change may trigger feedbacks over different ecological hierarchical levels (from genes to landscapes), spatial and temporal scales. This Special Issue provides a platform to highlight gaps in knowledge and variability or similarity of responses within this complex frame, because it is important to understand how plant ecology and diversity can be affected and respond to climate change, which are the most important physical, environmental and biological drivers triggering these responses, and assess the vulnerability of terrestrial ecosystems across biogeographical regions, from Alpine to Polar (Antarctica and the Arctic) environments. 

Prof. Nicoletta Cannone
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Alpine and polar regions
  • Plant ecology
  • Spatial and temporal scales
  • Biogeochemical cycles
  • Plant phenology
  • Plant functional traits
  • Plant biodiversity

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
First Record of Juncaceicola as Endophytic Fungi Associated with Deschampsia antarctica Desv.
Diversity 2018, 10(4), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10040107
Received: 13 April 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 27 September 2018
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Abstract
In the current study, we present the molecular characterization of an endophyte fungus associated with the leaves of Deschampsia antarctica Desv. (Poaceae), a monocot species native to Antarctica. The isolate was obtained from 90 leaf fragments from two distinct collection sites, both located [...] Read more.
In the current study, we present the molecular characterization of an endophyte fungus associated with the leaves of Deschampsia antarctica Desv. (Poaceae), a monocot species native to Antarctica. The isolate was obtained from 90 leaf fragments from two distinct collection sites, both located on Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands and Maritime Antarctica. The internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) was sequenced and the endophytic fungus was identified as belonging to the genus Juncaceicola Tennakoon, Camporesi, Phook and K.D. Hyde (99% nucleotide sequence identity). When compared to all fungi of the genus Juncaceicola deposited in data base, our isolate showed greater proximity with Juncaceicola typharum, however, because it presents a low bootstrap value to be considered a new species, we treat it as Juncaceicola cf. typharum. Moreover, the identification of our isolate as belonging to the genus Juncaceicola makes this the first occurrence of a species of this genus to be associated with the leaves of Antarctic plants. This work is considered as a starting point for other studies with fungi of this genus associated with leaves of Deschampsia antarctica, as it presents results from two collection points on a single Antarctic island, suggesting that new sites and new Antarctic islands should be explored. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Impacts on Alpine and Polar Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Characterization and Phylogenetic Analysis of Chloroplast and Mitochondria Genomes from the Antarctic Polytrichaceae Species Polytrichum juniperinum and Polytrichum strictum
Diversity 2018, 10(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10030089
Received: 12 April 2018 / Revised: 15 June 2018 / Accepted: 13 July 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
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Abstract
In this study, the organelle genomes of Polytrichum juniperinum Hedw. and Polytrichum strictum Menzies ex Brid. (Polytrichaceae, Bryophyta) from Antarctica were sequenced and compared with the plastomes of the model moss species Physcomitrella patens Brid. The sizes of the cpDNA in P. juniperinum [...] Read more.
In this study, the organelle genomes of Polytrichum juniperinum Hedw. and Polytrichum strictum Menzies ex Brid. (Polytrichaceae, Bryophyta) from Antarctica were sequenced and compared with the plastomes of the model moss species Physcomitrella patens Brid. The sizes of the cpDNA in P. juniperinum and P. strictum were estimated to be 55,168 and 20,183 bp, respectively; the sizes of the mtDNA were 88,021 and 58,896 bp, respectively. The genomes are very similar to each other, with the possible loss of petN in the cpDNA, which also showed some gene inversions when compared with the cpDNAs of P. patens Brid. In the mtDNA, it is possible that rps10 was lost. In contrast, Antarctic Polytrichaceae species have nad7 and orf187, without the occurrence of rearrangement events. Phylogenomic analyses of the plastid and mitochondria revealed that the majority-rule tree suggests some differences in the plastids ancestry, however, P. juniperinum and P. strictum were grouped in the same clade in chloroplast, but in mitochondria P. strictum was grouped with Atrichum angustatum (Brid.) Bruch & Schimp. This study helped us understand the evolution of plastomes and chondriosomes in the family Polytrichaceae, and suggest a hybridization event with relation to the mitochondrial data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Impacts on Alpine and Polar Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Changes in the Composition, Ecology, and Structure of Pinus mugo Scrubs in the Apennines (Italy)
Diversity 2018, 10(3), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10030070
Received: 4 June 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 17 July 2018 / Published: 20 July 2018
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Abstract
Mountain ecosystems are vulnerable because of land-use and climate change. In this study, we performed a re-visitation study using historical and newly collected vegetation plots to explore the primary trends in the floristic, ecological, and structural features of Mediterranean Pinus mugo krummholz over [...] Read more.
Mountain ecosystems are vulnerable because of land-use and climate change. In this study, we performed a re-visitation study using historical and newly collected vegetation plots to explore the primary trends in the floristic, ecological, and structural features of Mediterranean Pinus mugo krummholz over past decades. The plant community composition over time (1992 vs. 2016–17) was analyzed by a detrended correspondence analysis followed by a statistical comparison of time steps and an analysis of the contribution of each species to temporal differences. Ecological and structural changes were analyzed by a permutational multivariate analysis of variance followed by a post hoc comparison. We observed relevant changes in the floristic composition, structure, and ecological characteristics of Pinus mugo scrub. Some subalpine and treeline species that characterize the early stages of Pinus mugo succession declined as several warm-adapted species increased. Furthermore, these changes were most likely due to the natural evolution of high-mountain krummholz combined with a thermophilization process occurring in alpine habitats. In contrast, a small group of cold-adapted species also increased, probably because the patchy spatial pattern of Pinus mugo scrubs gives rise to “mesic patches” in a matrix of arid grasslands. The re-visitation approach adopted for long-term analysis in this study can potentially be applied to other mountainous regions to better understand long-term ecological changes in high alpine vegetation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Impacts on Alpine and Polar Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Trends in Population Size of Rare Plant Species in the Alpine Habitats of the Ukrainian Carpathians under Climate Change
Diversity 2018, 10(3), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10030062
Received: 17 April 2018 / Revised: 8 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
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Abstract
Population trends in rare alpine plant species in the high-mountain zone of the Ukrainian Carpathians are described with regard to the types of habitats where they occur. Populations of cold-adapted species confined to snowbeds, alpine screes, poorly vegetated rocks, and the highest ridges, [...] Read more.
Population trends in rare alpine plant species in the high-mountain zone of the Ukrainian Carpathians are described with regard to the types of habitats where they occur. Populations of cold-adapted species confined to snowbeds, alpine screes, poorly vegetated rocks, and the highest ridges, as well as mires and springs, are very vulnerable to climate change, while their habitats tend to shrink. The direct impact of warming affects mainly the most cryophilic species. Another driver of changes is climate-induced succession that results in denser vegetation cover and encroachment of more thermophilic plants, which replace low-competitive rare alpine species. Their replacement is largely caused by the loss of open microsites suitable for seed recruitment. However, the climate-driven decrease of snow cover often leads to frost damage to vegetation that provides gaps appropriate for the establishment of many rare species. One of the groups of species that benefit from warming includes rather thermophilic tall herbs that are more common in the subalpine zone but have been actively spreading at higher altitudes lately. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Impacts on Alpine and Polar Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Distribution of Plant Species and Dispersal Traits along Environmental Gradients in Central Mediterranean Summits
Diversity 2018, 10(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10030058
Received: 2 June 2018 / Revised: 19 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 7 July 2018
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Abstract
High-mountain ecosystems are spots of plant diversity in which species composition and traits depict a long evolutionary history of species adaptation to steep environmental gradients. We investigated the main trends in plant species composition and reproductive and dispersal traits (pollen vector, diaspore appendages, [...] Read more.
High-mountain ecosystems are spots of plant diversity in which species composition and traits depict a long evolutionary history of species adaptation to steep environmental gradients. We investigated the main trends in plant species composition and reproductive and dispersal traits (pollen vector, diaspore appendages, dispersal of diaspores and fruit type) in central Mediterranean summits in relation to environmental factors (altitude, aspect, debris cover and slope). Based on 114 plots, with floristic and environmental data collected in the year 2016 on alpine calcareous grasslands in the central Apennines, we explored how species composition varies in relation to environmental factors using CCA (canonical correspondence analysis). Then, we analyzed the relationships among species presence, the occurrence of reproductive and dispersal traits and environmental variables. We used for this analysis the fourth-corner model approach. Our results highlight a consistent response of floristic composition and of structural and ecological characteristics to environmental gradients, with elevation and debris cover being the most important ones. The environmental characteristics of the analyzed ecosystems (e.g., steep slopes and harsh environments) combined with the persistence of perennial plant species already present in each stand, the high precision of pollination and the prevalence of short-distance dissemination strategies should allow the calcareous endemic plant communities of the analyzed Mediterranean summits to be conserved at least for a mid-term period slowing down the expansion of the warm-adapted species, less adapted to the local environmental constrains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Impacts on Alpine and Polar Plants)
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