Plant Ecology

, Volume 215, Issue 8, pp 911–925 | Cite as

Latitudinal variation in seeds characteristics of Acer platanoides and A. pseudoplatanus

  • M. M. CarónEmail author
  • P. De Frenne
  • J. Brunet
  • O. Chabrerie
  • S. A. O. Cousins
  • L. De Backer
  • M. Diekmann
  • B. J. Graae
  • T. Heinken
  • A. Kolb
  • T. Naaf
  • J. Plue
  • F. Selvi
  • G. R. Strimbeck
  • M. Wulf
  • K. Verheyen


Climate change will likely affect population dynamics of numerous plant species by modifying several aspects of the life cycle. Because plant regeneration from seeds may be particularly vulnerable, here we assess the possible effects of climate change on seed characteristics and present an integrated analysis of seven seed traits (nutrient concentrations, samara mass, seed mass, wing length, seed viability, germination percentage, and seedling biomass) of Acer platanoides and A. pseudoplatanus seeds collected along a wide latitudinal gradient from Italy to Norway. Seed traits were analyzed in relation to the environmental conditions experienced by the mother trees along the latitudinal gradient. We found that seed traits of A. platanoides were more influenced by the climatic conditions than those of A. pseudoplatanus. Additionally, seed viability, germination percentage, and seedling biomass of A. platanoides were strongly related to the seed mass and nutrient concentration. While A. platanoides seeds were more influenced by the environmental conditions (generally negatively affected by rising temperatures), compared to A. pseudoplatanus, A. platanoides still showed higher germination percentage and seedling biomass than A. pseudoplatanus. Thus, further research on subsequent life-history stages of both species is needed. The variation in seed quality observed along the climatic gradient highlights the importance of studying the possible impact of climate change on seed production and species demography.


Acer platanoides Acer pseudoplatanus Climate change Seed traits Latitudinal gradient 



We thank the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) for funding the Scientific Research Network “FLEUR” (, the data providers in the ECA&D project (Data and metadata available at and Centro Funzionale della Regione Toscana”, and “Archivio CFS-Ufficio Territoriale per la Biodiversità di Pratovecchio. This paper was written while MMC held a Ph.D. fellowship from the Erasmus Mundus funding through the EuroTango project and PDF held a postdoctoral fellowship from the FWO.

Supplementary material

11258_2014_343_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 35 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. M. Carón
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. De Frenne
    • 1
  • J. Brunet
    • 2
  • O. Chabrerie
    • 3
  • S. A. O. Cousins
    • 4
  • L. De Backer
    • 5
  • M. Diekmann
    • 6
  • B. J. Graae
    • 7
  • T. Heinken
    • 8
  • A. Kolb
    • 6
  • T. Naaf
    • 9
  • J. Plue
    • 4
  • F. Selvi
    • 10
  • G. R. Strimbeck
    • 7
  • M. Wulf
    • 9
    • 11
  • K. Verheyen
    • 1
  1. 1.Forest & Nature LabGhent UniversityGontrode-MelleBelgium
  2. 2.Southern Swedish Forest Research CentreSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden
  3. 3.Jules Verne University of Picardie, UR Ecologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés (EDYSAN, FRE 3498 CNRS-UPJV)Amiens Cedex 1France
  4. 4.Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary GeologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  5. 5.Sylva nurseries BVBAWaarschootBelgium
  6. 6.Vegetation Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Ecology, FB2University of BremenBremenGermany
  7. 7.Department of BiologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  8. 8.Biodiversity and Systematic Botany, Institute of Biochemistry and BiologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  9. 9.Institute of Land Use SystemsLeibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)MünchebergGermany
  10. 10.Department of Agrifood Production and Environmental Sciences, section of Soil and Plant SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  11. 11.Institute of Biochemistry and BiologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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