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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. Snow is an important driver of ecosystem processes in cold biomes. Snow accumulation determines ground temperature, light conditions, and moisture availability during winter. It also affects the growing season’s start and end, and plant access to moisture and nutrients. Here, we review the current knowledge of the snow cover’s role for vegetation, plant-animal interactions, permafrost conditions, microbial processes, and biogeochemical cycling. We also compare studies of natural snow gradients with snow experimental manipulation studies to assess time scale difference of these approaches. The number of tundra snow studies has increased considerably in recent years, yet we still lack a comprehensive overview of how altered snow conditions will affect these ecosystems. Specifically, we found a mismatch in the timing of snowmelt when comparing studies of natural snow gradients with snow manipulations. We found that snowmelt timing achieved by snow addition and snow removal manipulations (average 7.9 days advance and 5.5 days delay, respectively) were substantially lower than the temporal variation over natural spatial gradients within a given year (mean range 56 days) or among years (mean range 32 days). Differences between snow study approaches need to be accounted for when projecting snow dynamics and their impact on ecosystems in future climates.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  4. Abdelaziz, Mohamed (Ed.)
    Abstract Individuals within natural populations can experience very different abiotic and biotic conditions across small spatial scales owing to microtopography and other micro-environmental gradients. Ecological and evolutionary studies often ignore the effects of micro-environment on plant population and community dynamics. Here, we explore the extent to which fine-grained variation in abiotic and biotic conditions contributes to within-population variation in trait expression and genetic diversity in natural plant populations. Furthermore, we consider whether benign microhabitats could buffer local populations of some plant species from abiotic stresses imposed by rapid anthropogenic climate change. If microrefugia sustain local populations and communities in the short term, other eco-evolutionary processes, such as gene flow and adaptation, could enhance population stability in the longer term. We caution, however, that local populations may still decline in size as they contract into rare microhabitats and microrefugia. We encourage future research that explicitly examines the role of the micro-environment in maintaining genetic variation within local populations, favouring the evolution of phenotypic plasticity at local scales and enhancing population persistence under global change.
  5. Since the Industrial Revolution began approximately 200 years ago, global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) has increased from 270 to 401 µL L−1, and average global temperatures have risen by 0.85°C, with the most pronounced effects occurring near the poles (IPCC, 2013). In addition, the last 30 years were the warmest decades in 1,400 years (PAGES 2k Consortium, 2013). By the end of this century, [CO2] is expected to reach at least 700 µL L−1, and global temperatures are projected to rise by 4°C or more based on greenhouse gas scenarios (IPCC, 2013). Precipitation regimes also are expected to shift on a regional scale as the hydrologic cycle intensifies, resulting in greater extremes in dry versus wet conditions (Medvigy and Beaulieu, 2012). Such changes already are having profound impacts on the physiological functioning of plants that scale up to influence interactions between plants and other organisms and ecosystems as a whole (Fig. 1). Shifts in climate also may alter selective pressures on plants and, therefore, have the potential to influence evolutionary processes. In some cases, evolutionary responses can occur as rapidly as only a few generations (Ward et al., 2000; Franks et al., 2007; Lau and Lennon, 2012), but theremore »is still much to learn in this area, as pointed out by Franks et al. (2014). Such responses have the potential to alter ecological processes, including species interactions, via ecoevolutionary feedbacks (Shefferson and Salguero-Gómez, 2015). In this review, we discuss microevolutionary and macroevolutionary processes that can shape plant responses to climate change as well as direct physiological responses to climate change during the recent geologic past as recorded in the fossil record. We also present work that documents how plant physiological and evolutionary responses influence interactions with other organisms as an example of how climate change effects on plants can scale to influence higher order processes within ecosystems. Thus, this review combines findings in plant physiological ecology and evolutionary biology for a comprehensive view of plant responses to climate change, both past and present.« less