Intraspecific variation in phenology offers resilience to climate change for \textit{Eriophorum vaginatum

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TitleIntraspecific variation in phenology offers resilience to climate change for \textit{Eriophorum vaginatum
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsParker, TC, Unger, SL, Moody, ML, Tang, J, Fetcher, N
JournalArctic Science
KeywordsLTER-ARC, update-2021-02

The phenology of Arctic plants is an important determinant of the pattern of carbon uptake and may be highly sensitive to continued rapid climate change. Eriophorum vaginatum L. (Cyperaceae) has a disproportionate influence over ecosystem processes in moist acidic tundra, but it is unclear whether its growth and phenology will remain competitive in the future. We investigated whether northern tundra ecotypes of E. vaginatum could extend their growing season in response to direct warming and transplanting into southern ecosystems. At the same time, we examined whether southern ecotypes could adjust their growth patterns in order to thrive further north, should they disperse quickly enough. Detailed phenology measurements across three reciprocal transplant gardens over a 2-year period showed that some northern ecotypes were capable of growing for longer when conditions were favourable, but their biomass and growing season length was still shorter than those of the southern ecotype. Southern ecotypes retained large leaf length when transplanted north and mirrored the growing season length better than the others, mainly owing to immediate green-up after snowmelt. All ecotypes retained the same senescence timing, regardless of environment, indicating a strong genetic control. Eriophorum vaginatum may remain competitive in a warming world if southern ecotypes can migrate north.