From: Editor, Science Daily
Published October 5, 2012 01:11 PM

Non-Native Plants Show a Greater Response Than Native Wildflowers to Climate Change

Warming temperatures in Ohio are a key driver behind changes in the state's landscape, and non-native plant species appear to be responding more strongly than native wildflowers to the changing climate, new research suggests.

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This adaptive nature demonstrated by introduced species could serve them well as the climate continues to warm. At the same time, the non-natives' potential ability to become even more invasive could threaten the survival of native species already under pressure from land-use changes, researchers say.

The research combines analyses of temperature change and blooming patterns of 141 species of Ohio wildflowers since 1895. Overall, the average temperature increased 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) in Ohio between 1895 and 2009. And 66 wildflower species -- or 46 percent of the 141 studied -- flowered earlier than usual in response to that warming.

This change in flowering patterns not only alters the landscape, but affects the availability of food for insects and birds and can influence the reproductive success of the plants themselves.

This kind of wildflower data is difficult to come by because historical observations of flowering trends simply don't exist in most states.

Article continues at Science Daily

Wildflower image via Shutterstock

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