Temporal dynamics of plant phenology in an arctic community in relation to climatic warming and herbivory.
Pedersen, Christian*,1, Post, Eric1, 1 Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
ABSTRACT- Studies of the effect of climatic warming on plant phenology indicate advances in phenological development as a response to earlier snowmelt and warmer air and soil temperatures. Furthermore, warming has also been shown to affect fruit maturation, and hence reproduction in several plant species. If the effect of herbivory is predictable in time and space, theory suggests that compensatory growth responses in plants might alleviate the deleterious effect of tissue lost. A substantial body of evidence suggests that several plants species have the ability to compensate, or even overcompensate for herbivory, by replacing either lost somatic or reproductive tissue. It is, to our knowledge, not yet known how the interaction between herbivores and plants is affected by rapid climatic changes. We are investigating the effect of climatic warming on the interaction between ungulate herbivory and the reproductive effort of two perennials, chickweed (Cerastium alpinum) and hoary whitlow-grass (Draba cana) in an arctic community in Greenland. Our results indicate a significant effect of warming in areas where ungulate herbivores are present, that reduces the reproductive success of D. cana and increases the reproductive success of C. alpinum, compared to areas where ungulate herbivores are absent. These findings also suggest that warming could affect interspecific competition and community composition.
Key words: plant phenology, climate change, arctic
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