Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.baae.2021.11.003
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Historical comparisons show evolutionary changes in drought responses in European plant species after two decades of climate change
Author Rauschkolb, R.; Henres, L.; Lou, C.; Godefroid, S.; Dixon, L.; Durka, W. ORCID logo ; Bossdorf, O.; Ensslin, A.; Scheepens, J.F.
Journal Basic and Applied Ecology
Year 2022
Department BZF; iDiv
Volume 58
Page From 26
Page To 38
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords common garden experiments; drought; early life stages; multi-species experiments; phenotypic plasticity; rapid evolution; resurrection approach; seed banks
Abstract Plants must continuously respond to environmental changes, and a timely question is whether and how populations respond to ongoing global warming and increased drought frequencies and intensities. Plants can either respond through migration or through phenotypic plasticity or their populations can adapt evolutionarily, which encompasses the evolution of trait means and of trait plasticity. One way to detect such evolutionary changes within plant populations is through historical comparisons where plants grown from seeds collected in the past (“ancestors”) are compared to freshly collected seeds from the same populations (“descendants”) in common garden experiments. We used 21- to 26-year-old seeds stored in seed banks for two multi-species experiments that investigated changes in phenotypic traits and their plasticity conferring drought tolerance in early life stages of European plant species. In the first experiment, we used seedlings of four Mediterranean species, ceased watering and recorded their day of mortality. In the second experiment, we studied phenotypic responses to drought in juvenile plants of nine species originating from temperate regions in Europe. In one of four species in the first experiment, descendants survived significantly longer without watering and were smaller than their ancestors. In the second experiment, descendant plants were generally taller under well-watered conditions but smaller under drought than their ancestors, thus showing stronger plasticity. Our historical comparisons suggest that some populations have likely evolved through changes in trait means and plasticity in ways consistent with adaptation to increased drought. Using seed bank material for historical comparisons has several weaknesses, such as unknown sampling protocols or invisible fractions. However, we show how accurately sampled and stored seed bank collections can be used similar to the resurrection approach for investigating rapid evolutionary processes in early life stages of plants under climate change.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Rauschkolb, R., Henres, L., Lou, C., Godefroid, S., Dixon, L., Durka, W., Bossdorf, O., Ensslin, A., Scheepens, J.F. (2022):
Historical comparisons show evolutionary changes in drought responses in European plant species after two decades of climate change
Basic Appl. Ecol. 58 , 26 - 38