|Dietrich, C; Kreyling, J; Jentsch, A; Malyshev, A: Intraspecific variation in response to magnitude and frequency of freeze-thaw cycles in a temperate grass, AoB PLANTS, 10(1) (2018), doi:10.1093/aobpla/plx068 [Link]|
Winter warming and its accompanying predicted decrease in snow pack for northern temperate regions may increase frost damage to plants induced by an increase in freeze-thaw cycles (FTCs) due to reduced insulation. FTC frequency, minimum temperature during freezing and pre-existing local adaptations potentially all influence site-specific plant responses to future climatic changes. Within a chamber experiment, frost sensitivity towards recurrent FTCs was determined in 12 Dactylis glomerata populations from various European sampling sites differing in temperature and precipitation. After winter hardening, plants were frozen at −4 and −8 °C at frequencies of one, three and seven FTCs within a 1-week treatment phase. The control was kept at 4.5 °C. Plant survival, leaf elongation, chlorophyll content and above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) decreased with lower minimum temperatures and higher FTC frequencies, while lower freezing temperatures generally proved more influential than increased freezing frequencies. Plant survival rates correlated with the amount of annual precipitation at seed origin, as individuals from comparably drier sites exhibited higher survival rates. This response, however, was limited in its effect to low freezing temperatures (−8 °C) and low and medium freezing frequencies (1 and 3 FTCs). In the set of surviving plants, water availability at seed origin best explained the plants’ growth responses to FTC treatment. The observed intraspecific variation emphasizes the ecological importance of potential local adaptations within a more variable future winter climate.
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