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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  2. The timing of germination has profound impacts on fitness, population dynamics, and species ranges. Many plants have evolved responses to seasonal environmental cues to time germination with favorable conditions; these responses interact with temporal variation in local climate to drive the seasonal climate niche and may reflect local adaptation. Here, we examined germination responses to temperature cues in Streptanthus tortuosus populations across an elevational gradient. Methods Using common garden experiments, we evaluated differences among populations in response to cold stratification (chilling) and germination temperature and related them to observed germination phenology in the field. We then explored how these responsesmore »relate to past climate at each site and the implications of those patterns under future climate change. Results Populations from high elevations had stronger stratification requirements for germination and narrower temperature ranges for germination without stratification. Differences in germination responses corresponded with elevation and variability in seasonal temperature and precipitation across populations. Further, they corresponded with germination phenology in the field; low‐elevation populations germinated in the fall without chilling, whereas high‐elevation populations germinated after winter chilling and snowmelt in spring and summer. Climate‐change forecasts indicate increasing temperatures and decreasing snowpack, which will likely alter germination cues and timing, particularly for high‐elevation populations. Conclusions The seasonal germination niche for S. tortuosus is highly influenced by temperature and varies across the elevational gradient. Climate change will likely affect germination timing, which may cascade to influence trait expression, fitness, and population persistence.« less
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