Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Some Plants Can Adapt To Widespread Climate Change

Date:
July 9, 2008
Source:
Syracuse University
Summary:
While many plant species move to a new location or go extinct as a result of climate change, grasslands clinging to a steep, rocky dale-side in Northern England seem to defy the odds and adapt to long-term changes in temperature and rainfall, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The 13-year experiment involved subjecting 30 small grassland plots to microclimate manipulation.

While many plant species move to a new location or go extinct as a result of climate change, grasslands clinging to a steep, rocky dale-side in Northern England seem to defy the odds and adapt to long-term changes in temperature and rainfall, according to a new study by scientists from Syracuse University and the University of Sheffield (United Kingdom) published online in the July 7 issue of the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The experiment on which the study is based is one of the longest-running studies of climate change impacts on natural vegetation and may yield new insights into the effects of global warming on plant ecosystems.

"Contemporary wisdom suggests that climate changes cause plants to move or die," says Jason Fridley, study co-author and assistant professor of biology in The College of Arts and Sciences at SU. "However, our study suggests that if the changes in climate occur slowly enough, some plants have the ability to respond, adapt and thrive in their existing location."

The new findings resulted from the analysis of 13 years of data collected at the Buxton Climate Change Impacts Laboratory (BCCIL) in the United Kingdom by Emeritus Professor J. Philip Grime and colleagues at the University of Sheffield. Established in 1989, BCCIL is a field laboratory of grasslands consisting largely of slow-growing herbs and sub-shrubs, many of which are more than 100 years old. As many as 50 different species of plants per square meter survive the region's hostile conditions by growing in shallow soil and in the nooks and crannies of limestone outcrops. The data analysis was supported by a grant Fridley obtained from the National Science Foundation.

The 13-year experiment at BCCIL involved subjecting 30 small grassland plots to microclimate manipulation. For example, some plots received 20 percent more water than normal during the summer, while other plots were covered with rain shelters in the summer to simulate drought conditions; heating cables were placed under some plots to simulate winter warming. The grasses in all of the plots were cut to simulate annual sheep grazing. A similar experiment was concurrently conducted on grasslands in Southern England for the first five years.

Data collected from the northern and southern sites was the subject of a study published by Grime and colleagues in Science (2000). In the 2000 study, the vegetation in the southern plots was substantially altered by the climate changes, while the Buxton vegetation in the north was virtually unaffected. The southern experiment was dismantled, but Grime continued the experiment on the Buxton plots.

"Based on the results of the five-year experiment, we suspected there was something unique happening in the northern grasslands that enabled the plants to resist simulated climate changes," Fridley says. "We formed two hypotheses -- the plants will eventually be affected, but it will take longer due to chronic nutrient shortage; or the grasslands won't change regardless of how long we manipulate the environment. All of our analysis suggested that the grassland ecosystem is stable, despite the climate manipulations."

The new results have yielded more questions than answers; foremost is why are some plants resistant to climate change, while others die, become extinct or migrate to other places? The answers may lie in the nature and behavior of the individual plants within a species.

"Individual plants may die or contract," Fridley says, "but perhaps they are replaced by those of the same species that are more adapted to the environmental changes. The closer we look, the more complex the systems become. There is actually a lot going on, but we may be missing it because we are looking at a broad spectrum of species instead of what is happening at the level of the individual plants within a species."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Syracuse University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Syracuse University. "Some Plants Can Adapt To Widespread Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708155608.htm>.
Syracuse University. (2008, July 9). Some Plants Can Adapt To Widespread Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708155608.htm
Syracuse University. "Some Plants Can Adapt To Widespread Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708155608.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins