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Plants take a hike as temperatures rise
Date:2/10/2009

l Crimmins, assistant professor and climate science extension specialist for the UA's department of soil, water, and environmental science, and Bertelsen will publish their paper, "Flowering range changes across an elevation gradient in response to warming summer temperatures." The paper is published this week in the online Early View of the journal Global Change Biology.

Many scientists have wanted to study the movement of flowering ranges, but lack the years of detailed data required for this research, Theresa Crimmins said.

At a meeting about monitoring plant species held by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2005, Crimmins discussed his need for data to study the effect of climate change on ecosystems over time.

Bertelsen was at the meeting and told Crimmins about the extensive data he had collected during his many years hiking Finger Rock trail. Bertelsen had the sense some plants were flowering farther uphill and had observed many changes he attributed to drought.

Bertelsen had begun hiking the trail in 1981 and fell in love with the flora and fauna. He had just taken up macrophotography and took close-up pictures of all types of plants and animals while recording his observations in a journal.

"Somebody once said that I have this compulsion. I don't feel driven at all, it's drawn. If I miss a week, I miss it. I just feel that I'm really part of that canyon and it's a part of what I am. It's just good old human curiosity," Bertelsen said. "There's always something different. It's just absolutely amazing."

In 1983 he developed a checklist to document each species in bloom along each of five one-mile long trail segments. Thus, on a single day, if a particular plant was seen in bloom in three segments, there would be three different records. Bertelsen collected flowering data from 1984 to 2003.

To see whether the plants had shifted their flowering, the Crimminses compared Bertelsen's
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Contact: Mari N. Jensen
mnjensen@email.arizona.edu
520-626-9635
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert  

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