The devil is in the detail: Nonadditive and context‐dependent plant population responses to increasing temperature and precipitation
Plants marked with toothpicks for demographic study. Picture: Siri Lie Olsen
My new paper on trait differentiation and adaptation along elevational gradients is out. And my picture is on the title page!
Studies of genetic adaptation in plant populations along elevation gradients in mountains have a long history, but there has until now been neither a synthesis of how frequently plant populations exhibit adaptation to elevation nor an evaluation of how consistent underlying trait differences across species are. We reviewed studies of adaptation along elevation gradients (i) from a meta‐analysis of phenotypic differentiation of three traits (height, biomass and phenology) from plants growing in 70 common garden experiments; (ii) by testing elevation adaptation using three fitness proxies (survival, reproductive output and biomass) from 14 reciprocal transplant experiments; (iii) by qualitatively assessing information at the molecular level, from 10 genomewide surveys and candidate gene approaches. We found that plants originating from high elevations were generally shorter and produced less biomass, but phenology did not vary consistently. We found significant evidence for elevation adaptation in terms of survival and biomass, but not for reproductive output. Variation in phenotypic and fitness responses to elevation across species was not related to life history traits or to environmental conditions. Molecular studies, which have focussed mainly on loci related to plant physiology and phenology, also provide evidence for adaptation along elevation gradients. Together, these studies indicate that genetically based trait differentiation and adaptation to elevation are widespread in plants. We conclude that a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying adaptation, not only to elevation but also to environmental change, will require more studies combining the ecological and molecular approaches.
The popularity of using traits data in ecology has increased a lot in the last years. Traits can be used to describe species communities across different regions and how they respond to environmental change, and much more.
The goal of OpenTraits is to increase our global knowledge of traits from different organisms by
- Developing shared data standards;
- Developing open-source tools and techniques for gathering, cleaning, curating, and analyzing trait data;
- Developing methods for the prioritization of trait sampling;
- Increasing collaboration among trait researchers; and
- Organizing trait sampling efforts for priority regions, taxa and traits.
If you are interested to learn more about OpenTraits, there is a blog post on the Functional Ecologist blog and there will be a workshop prior to the Ecological Society of America annual meetings, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (August 4-5, 2018).
A colleague has published an article on how biology students learn on field excursions. In addition, to study and learn about nature, these students were themselves being observed by Torstein Nielsen Hole, currently a PhD candidate at bioceed, university of Bergen.
For this study he joined a field course on Svalbard. It’s interesting to read about how biologists discuss their work in the field. And the article covers all from bare soil, death and guns (protection from polar).