Special Issue "Reproduction of Plants in High-Mountains and Arctic Regions under Climatic Stress"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Response to Abiotic Stress and Climate Change".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Gilbert Neuner
Guest Editor
Department of Botany, University of Innsbruck, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Interests: Functional plant ecology with a focus on stress physiology of mountain plants: freezing resistance, ice formation and propagation, heat resistance, drought and irradiation stress and specific stress combinations; survival strategies (avoidance, tolerance and restitution)
Prof. Dr. Johanna Wagner
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Botany, Faculty of Biology, University of Innsbruck A 6020 Innsbruck, Austria, Europe
Interests: reproductive biology of high-mountain plants with focus on flower development, pollination biology; progamic processes; seed development; developmental dynamics and plasticity; reproductive ecology; climatic stress

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is common knowledge that climatic extremes increase with elevation and latitude. Though plants inhabiting high-mountains and arctic regions are stress-tolerant and widely adapted to the harsh conditions, they are threatened by climatic extremes. The main abiotic stress factors are short growing seasons, long snow cover, frost at any time during the year, strong irradiation, partial overheating and drought in summer, and strong winds. Since climate change is particularly pronounced in high-mountains and polar regions, climatic strains further increase inter alia because of the reduction of a protecting snow cover in winter and the increase of heat load and drought in summer.

Stress tolerance of the vegetative structures of mountain and arctic plants is well studied. In contrast, little information is available about the impact of climatic stress on reproductive structures and processes. Studies to date have shown that reproductive structures are generally more vulnerable than vegetative parts, with the degree of impairment being dependent on the state of development. Since flowering and seed formation are essential functions ensuring population turnover and determining the distribution potential of a species, more knowledge in this field is necessary.

This Special Issue focuses on all aspects of reproduction of mountain and arctic plants under climatic stress. Original research papers, reviews, and short communications in this area are welcome.

Prof. Gilbert Neuner
Prof. Johanna Wagner
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Plants is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Alpine
  • Arctic
  • Anthesis
  • Asexual reproduction
  • Climatic stress
  • Developmental dynamics
  • Developmental plasticity
  • Drought
  • Ice formation
  • Flower development
  • Frost
  • Heat
  • Mountain
  • Pollination and fertilization
  • Reproductive ecology
  • Reproductive phenology
  • Reproductive success
  • Seed development
  • Seed germination
  • Sexual reproduction
  • Temperature stress

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The germination niche versus the geographical niche of alpine shrubs
Authors: Susanna Venn; Rachael Gallagher; Adrienne Nicotra
Affiliation: 1. Deakin University; 2. Macquarie University; 3. The Australian National University
Abstract: Worldwide, shrub cover is increasing across alpine tundra. In Australia, alpine shrub increases match a trend spanning four decades of rising temperatures and declining snowpack. Alpine shrubs are notoriously clonal, however sexual recruitment will be necessary for dispersal and for ongoing population maintenance into the future. With a changing climate, species recruitment may need to operate outside of the optimum range. The germination niche of a species is defined as the entire range at which germination can occur, including optimums, but also the extreme edges of germination; from very poor germination rates at very low and very high temperatures, to higher germination rates at favourable temperatures. Hence, the germination niche of some species will be important for understanding future regeneration and recruitment under a warming climate. But do germination niche limits coincide with species range limits? And how will the germination opportunities for some shrubs change in the future as the germination niche ‘envelope’ becomes smaller or larger? We compared data on the germination niche requirements of several alpine shrubs to climatic niche limits derived from herbarium records. Specifically, we compared the breadth of temperatures (both averages and extremes) experienced across 11 alpine species ranges derived from cleaned occurrence records in the /Australian Virtual Herbarium/. We then compared the range of extent of the target species with the temperatures that allowed for germination in the lab. This study will enable us to make better predictions about the potential for encroachment and the possible range of alpine shrubs into the future.

Title: Winter frosts reduce flower bud survival in high-mountain plants
Authors: Wagner Johanna; Gruber Karla; Ladinig Ursula; Buchner Othmar; Neuner Gilbert
Affiliation: Department of Botany, University of Innsbruck, Sternwartestrasse 15, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria; Department of Biosciences, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria

Title: Reproductive performance along an elevational temperature gradient does not explain geographical parthenogenesis in the alpine plant species Ranunculus kuepferi
Authors: Ladinig Ursula; Wagner Johanna
Affiliation: Department of Botany, University of Innsbruck, Sternwartestrasse 15, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria

Title: Are mountain plants in oceanic climates more resilient to temperature stress?
Authors: Janice Lord; Ralf Ohlemueller; Daniel Busubas; Katherine Dickinson; Alison Knight; Alan Mark
Affiliation: University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Title: Seeds and Seedlings in a Changing World: A Systematic Review and a Meta-Analysis from High Altitude and High Latitude Ecosystems
Authors: Jerónimo Vázquez-Ramírez; Susanna Venn
Affiliation: eXtreme Plant Ecology Research Team, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood VIC 3125, Australia
Abstract: The early life history-stages of plants, such as germination and seedling establishment, depend on favorable environmental conditions. Changes in the environment at high altitude and latitude regions, as a consequence of climate change, will significantly affect these early life stages and may have profound effects on species distribution and survival. This research aims to review the current knowledge of the effects of climate change on the early life stages of treeline, tundra, and alpine plants. We search the available literature on this subject to the date (February-2020). We found 41 studies that match our criteria and created a database with 476 specific observations. We perform a qualitative analysis and meta-analysis of the climatic effects likely to change in these regions including projected drought, frost, early snowmelt, warming, and nutrient availability and their effects on seed maturation, seed dormancy, germination, seedling emergence and establishment. Results showed a high variation in species and functional group responses during different life-history stages. For some of the life stages, data within the literature is too limited to identify a precise effect. There is a crucial need for studies that increase our understanding of the impact of climate change on the reproductive processes on high latitude and high altitude species.

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