Plant Ecology

, Volume 214, Issue 4, pp 607–619 | Cite as

Seedling emergence responds to both seed source and recruitment site climates: a climate change experiment combining transplant and gradient approaches

  • Eric MeineriEmail author
  • Joachim Spindelböck
  • Vigdis Vandvik


Seedling recruitment allows genetic recombination and production of dispersal units. Both the climate experienced by the source populations (seed source effect) and the weather experienced by the seeds during germination and seedling emergence (recruitment site effects) are important for seedling recruitment. Separating these effects in the field is essential to assess potential climate change impacts on plant population. We combine experimental seed transplant and gradient analyses to separate the effects of seed source and recruitment site temperature and precipitation for the seedling emergence of two alpine/lowland species pairs (Viola biflora/Viola palustris, Veronica alpina/Veronica officinalis). Combining these approaches allows us to compare local responses versus responses along environmental gradients, but also tests for local adaptation and/or pre-conditioning effects (adaptive seedling emergence responses). Veronica officinalis emergence increased with increasing seed source temperature in both the experimental and the gradient approaches, and showed adaptive seedling emergence. Viola biflora, Viola palustris and Veronica alpina emergence decreased with recruitment site temperature in both approaches. Both Violas emergences increased with recruitment site precipitation, in both approaches for the alpine violet, and in the gradient approach for lowland one. Emergence was primarily affected by the environment of the recruitment site, whereas seed source climate and adaptive seedling emergence impacted recruitment in only one of our species. The responses to recruitment site temperatures were negative, whereas the response to seed source temperature was positive. Ignoring the distinctions between these different mechanisms can lead to erroneous conclusions regarding potential climate change impacts on plant recruitment.


Local adaptation Maternal effect Plastic response Precipitation Temperature Seedling recruitment 



This study is supported by NFR NORKLIMA via the SeedClim project [184912/S30] and Olav Grolle Olsens fund from the Bergen Museum. The authors thank the land-owners for granting them access to the field sites, Serge Farinas and Tessa Bargmann for field assistance, Olav Skarpaas, Kari Klanderud, Deborah Goldberg, Zuzana Munzbergova and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript, and Cathy Jenks for language revision.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Meineri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joachim Spindelböck
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vigdis Vandvik
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering and ScienceSogn og Fjordane University CollegeSogndalNorway

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