There’s been a well-documented shift toward earlier springtime flowering in many plants as the world warms.
There’s been a well-documented shift toward earlier springtime flowering in many plants as the world warms. The trend alarms biologists because it has the potential to disrupt carefully choreographed interactions between plants and the creatures—butterflies, bees, birds, bats and others—that pollinate them.
But much less attention has been paid to changes in other floral traits, such as flower size, that can also affect plant-pollinator interactions, at a time when many insect pollinators are in global decline.
In a study published online in the journal Evolution Letters, two University of Michigan biologists and a University of Georgia colleague show that wild populations of the common morning glory in the southeastern United States increased the size of their flowers between 2003 and 2012.
Increased flower size suggests a greater investment by the plants in pollinator attraction, according to the researchers. The changes were most pronounced at more northern latitudes, in line with a broad range of previous work showing that northern plant populations tend to show more dramatic evolutionary responses to climate change.
Read more at University of Michigan
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