, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 168-175

Effects of temperature and date of snowmelt on growth, reproduction, and flowering phenology in the arctic/alpine herb, Ranunculus glacialis

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Abstract.

Changes in growing season temperature and duration may have profound effects on the population dynamics of arctic and alpine plant species in snow-bed and fell-field habitats. We examined how a typical herbaceous pioneer species, Ranunculus glacialis, responded to experimental climate change in open-top chambers for three seasons at an alpine site in southern Norway. Warming had no significant effect on any reproductive, growth or phenological variables, except for seed weight, which increased significantly during the first 2 ears. Despite large differences in average date of snowmelt among years, average reproductive output and ramet size differed little among years. Within-year variation in date of snowmelt had no impact on seed number or weight in either control or warmed plots. Leaf width and ramet leaf number decreased significantly with later snowmelt within a year. Experimental warming reduced the negative effect on ramet size of late snowmelt within a year to some extent. In general, R. glacialis reacts contrary to most other arctic/alpine species to experimental warming. Species with such low responsiveness to environmental conditions may be particularly vulnerable to climatic change, especially if their habitat is invaded by other species with higher phenotypic plasticity and a better competitive ability.

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