PerspectiveEcology

How climate change affects plants' sex lives

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Science  01 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 32-33
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag1624

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Summary

Climate change affects wild plant species across their geographical ranges. Studies at the margins of species' ranges reveal upslope expansion, low-elevation range contraction, and, in some cases, a lack of geographic response to climate change (1). However, all populations, including those in the core of species' ranges, are subject to climate-driven natural selection that promotes adaptation to a warmer world (2). Theoretical models show that coupled spatial and temporal responses of populations can mediate the negative effects of climate change (3, 4), but it remains unclear whether these processes can occur fast enough to rescue populations from extinction (5). On page 69 of this issue, Petry et al. (6) report rapid spatial and temporal change in plant sex ratios in response to changing climatic conditions. These changes could facilitate geographic range shifts in the montane perennial herb valerian (Valeriana edulis).

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