Alpine ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and climate projections indicate that future snow depth will decrease and snow will melt earlier. These changes will expose alpine plants to greater frequencies of extreme temperature events than would have previously have occurred under the moderating influence of snow. Thus paradoxically, despite increasing temperatures, we could expect frost to emerge as a major factor in determining alpine plant survival and development under global change conditions.
In this study we look to assess the impact of maternal environment during seed development on survival, growth and freezing resistance of seedlings in both ambient and simulated climate change scenarios. We have established a field transplant experiment using the Australian alpine herb, Aciphylla glacialis, where seedlings from both late and early snow melt provenances were planted at a common elevation in the field, under either warmed (Open Top Chambers) or ambient conditions. We have hypothesized that seedlings from early snow melt sites would display greater tolerance to extreme temperature events and thus, have higher survival and growth in the field under Open Top Chamber’s.
This work has been accepted at Australian Journal of Botany.