AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Germination thresholds of the Mixed-grass Prairie species as affected by global climate change: A FACE study.

by Jin Li

Institution: University of Saskatchewan
Year: 2014
Keywords: climate change; grass; regeneration; thermal time model; Mixed-grass Prairie
Record ID: 2053680
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10388/ETD-2013-12-1331


The effects of global climate change on seed germination and plant regeneration have been reported in many species. However, there are no consistent trends in how seed quality and germination are affected by these conditions. Seeds of four native, one invasive, and two pairs of native/invasive species were collected from the USDA-ARS Prairie Heating and CO2 Enrichment Experimental plots in 2007 to 2009, located in the Mixed-grass Prairie near Cheyenne, WY. Field treatments include ambient (385 ppm, c) and elevated (600 ppm, C) CO2 concentrations, control temperature (t) and heating (1.5/3.0°C warmer day/night, T), and deep (ct-d) and shallow (ct-s) irrigation. Seed quality was evaluated and germination tests were conducted under alternating temperatures (10/0, 12.5/2.5, 15/5, 20/10, 25/15, 30/20, 35/25°C). Thermal time requirements (θ50) and base temperatures (Tb) for germination were determined using thermal time models. Elevated CO2 concentrations reduced seed fill and viability, germination and germination rate in Grindelia squarrosa. Heating increased seed viability in Koeleria macrantha from 56% to 79%. Heating, when combined with elevated CO2 concentrations, increased germination while CO2 alone decreased germination by about 14% in Bouteloua gracilis. Heating tended to enhance Tb and to reduce θ50 in Bouteloua gracilis, which may slow the initiation of germination but seeds germinate faster in spring. Elevated CO2 concentrations tended to increase but CT tended to decrease Tb in Centaurea diffusa, but not θ50. Heating tended to increase but all the other treatments tended to reduce Tb in Lanaria dalmatica, leading to a possible earlier start of germination. Irrigation treatments tended to show similar trend of effects on seed quality and germination as that in elevated CO2 concentrations. Species specific changes in seed quality and germination were observed, which may exert substantial cumulative effects on community composition in the long run. Invasive species may be more competitive under future climatic conditions compared with native species. However, the distribution and abundance of some native species, specifically Bouteloua gracilis, may be favored by climate change.