Climate change related to reduced plant size in Nevada

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article


Plants are shrinking in the Great Basin of Nevada, and warming climate could be the culprit, according to a paper published in the renowned science journal Global Change Biology based on research conducted by University of Nevada, Reno plant ecologist Beth Leger.

“I used the extensive plant collections in the University of Nevada, Reno herbarium to ask how plants are responding to climate change over the last century,” Leger said. “I found that plants are shrinking over time – a result that has been seen in vertebrates, but almost not investigated at all in plants – which has implications for primary productivity and turns the old idea that ‘bigger is always better’ on it's head.”

Leger, an associate professor of plant ecology in the department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, took into account air temperature minimums and maximums, sea surface temperatures and precipitation beginning in the year each specimen was collected. She used climate data from PRISM, recognized world-wide as having the highest-quality spatial climate data sets currently available.

“I asked whether warming trends in the Great Basin have affected plant size by measuring specimens preserved on herbarium sheets collected between 1893 and 2011,” she said. “We spent several hundred hours in the collection.”

Leger and four undergraduate students examined, measured and analyzed more than 1,900 samples to determine if climate affected plant height, leaf size and flower number, and whether those changes in climate resulted in decreasing sizes for seven annual flowering plant species.

While one species increased in size and flower number over the observation period, five of the seven species decreased in plant height, four of these decreased in leaf size and one species also decreased in flower production. One species showed no change.

Of the thousands of specimens to choose from, Leger and her students chose seven that had samples and records reaching back to the late 19th century.

The University’s herbarium, a part of the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, was established in 1888. By 1890, the staff had collected samples for 2,000 Northern Nevada species. Today the herbarium, under the supervision of botanist Arnold (Jerry) Tiehm, houses more than 90,000 samples from throughout the Great Basin, many from the original collections of the 1890s.

Scientists from around the world use the collection for a variety of research topics.

“Having a resource like the herbarium, with specimens collected and preserved for more than 100 years, is incredible,” Leger said. “The foresight of those early botanists has really paid off for science, and the resulting benefits to our communities throughout Nevada are valuable as we use the data to inform our decisions.”

The Global Change Biology article "Annual Plants Change in Size Over a Century of Observations" can be viewed at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12208/full.

The herbariums database, maintained by University Libraries, currently contains about 20,000 of the approximately 90,000 specimens housed in the Herbarium. The herbarium database can be found at http://contentdm.library.unr.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2Fherb


Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (0) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left


Harvest Map Processing™

Features & Options: Farmers harvest fields but they often don’t harvest the data. GEOSYS offers Harvest Map Processing™ as a ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form