Plants and Climate Change: Complexities and Surprises
Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Magnolia, Sheraton Hotel
Michael Hanley, University of Plymouth
Camille Parmesan, Plymouth University
Four decades of intensive research into biological responses to anthropogenically induced shifts in CO2, precipitation, and temperature have generated a rich literature. At ESA 2013, several OOS and Symposia were devoted to climate change impacts on ecological processes and implications for conservation and policy. Even with decades of research spread across thousands of publications, there is only just now emerging evidence for complex, unexpected responses to recent anthropogenic climate change. For example, Wolkovich et al. (Nature 2012) showed that experimental warming treatments failed to match long-term observational responses for many plants, even for the same species in the same regions. Clearly plant community response to climate change in real world vegetation is more complex than the relatively simple experiments and models of past decades could have been expected to anticipate, but the question remains ‘what drives these apparent departures from expectation?'
Myriad interactions between plants and herbivores, symbionts and competitors are likely to be part, but not all, of the story. It is increasingly clear that variation in plant ecophysiological traits and inherent adaptability within and between populations and across range distributions also play a part, as do the evolutionary origins of the plant species studied. Attempts to treat these factors in isolation often confound our ability to predict how any given plant will respond to an increase in CO2, temperature, or rainfall. Nonetheless, these complexities must be better understood if we are to have any hope of predicting the effects of anthropogenic climate change on biological systems.
In this symposium, we will focus on surprises in plant responses in both manipulated and unmanipulated systems, highlighting mismatches between theory, modeling, experimental and observational studies. We will bring together expertise from multiple levels of study (from individual to ecosystems), using multiple approaches (from experimental to modeling to observational), and from ecological, evolutionary and paleo perspectives. This symposium would bring global representation to ESA, with scientist from three countries presenting research that spans four continents (North America, Africa, Asia and Australia). Speakers also span a range of career stages, from well-established to just finishing their PhDs. By bringing this diversity of topics, approaches and perspectives together, we aim to gain new insights and promote future interdisciplinary research on plant/climate interactions.