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Latitudinal variation in reproductive performance of Leymus chinensis: implications for its response to future climate warming

Zhang, Bo, Chen, Hai-Jun, Hou, Xiang-Yang, Ma, Hui-Ling, Fang, Qiang-En, Hua, Li-Min, Jiang, Jie, Shi, Shang-Li, Zhang, De-Gang, Zhao, Gui-Qin, Han, Wen-Jun, Oxana, Vishnyakova, Leonid, Ubugunov
Plant ecology & diversity 2018 v.11 no.3 pp. 363-372
Leymus chinensis, climate, environmental factors, florets, global warming, habitats, latitude, models, plant reproduction, reproductive performance, reproductive traits, sexual reproduction, shoots, spikelets, steppes, temperature, viability, China
Background: Sexual reproduction of plants is likely to be related to climate in their distribution range. Therefore, the investigation of spatial pattern of reproductive traits might provide valuable insights into the potential responses of a plant species to climate change. Aims: We studied the latitudinal pattern of sexual reproduction in Leymus chinensis to uncover the underlying ecological factors and their roles. Methods: We established a latitude transect in the Inner Mongolian steppe and investigated reproductive performance of L. chinensis, followed by modelling the relationship between traits and ecological factors. Results: Stalk height, spike length and spikelet number were non-linearly related to latitude. The spike-stalk ratio, seed viability and shoot density displayed significantly negative response to increasing latitude. Overall, increased latitude posed adverse impacts on sexual reproduction of L. chinensis. Annual mean temperature was positively correlated with the traits relevant to fitness, such as floret number and seed viability and annual mean precipitation to the development and growth of shoots. Conclusions: Under climate change scenarios, the shift of reproductive pattern in L. chinensis, i.e. likely more successful sexual reproduction, will have considerable contribution to its potential of adaptation to changing environment, and to its capacity of migration towards more suitable habitats.