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Wildflower declines in Thoreau's Concord woods are due to climate changes
Date:10/27/2008

Thoreau's time, that a global approach to conservation prioritization is necessary to minimize future species loss. And conservation strategies will require information both on the current ecology of the species as well as their past evolutionary history.

Their study, which examines changes in species abundance and habitat along with two separate measures of flowering time response to temperature, notes that since Thoreau's time species flower an average of seven days earlier. Moreover, the mean temperature in the Concord area has risen 2.4 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years and is expected to climb between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius during the next 100 years. These temperature changes are linked to flowering times.

"Species whose flowering time are not responsive to changes in temperature are decreasing in abundance," the study states. "Most strikingly, species with the ability to track short-term seasonable temperature variation have faired significantly better under recent warming trends. In addition, species whose flowering times have shifted to be earlier in the years over the long-term have also fared significantly better under recent warming trends. Based on our regression estimates, change in abundance over the last 100 years is greatest when assessed against species' ability to track short-term seasonal temperature versus long-term flowering shifts. Thus, the association between flowering time tracking and change in abundance is a better estimator of species response to rising temperatures."

The study also accounted for other plant life cycle influences such as the lack of available insect pollinators or the increased flower or seed predation. The authors found the phonological response to insects may correlate with seasonable temperatures. This suggests that plant species that respond to temperature changes may be better at maintaining important periodic interactions with pollinators or better at avoiding negative intera
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Contact: Ronald Rosenberg
ronrosen@bu.edu
617-358-1240
Boston University
Source:Eurekalert

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