University of Oulu

Hällfors M, Lehvävirta S, Aandahl T, Lehtimäki I, Nilsson LO, Ruotsalainen A, Schulman LE, Hyvärinen MT. 2020. Translocation of an arctic seashore plant reveals signs of maladaptation to altered climatic conditions. PeerJ 8:e10357

Translocation of an arctic seashore plant reveals signs of maladaptation to altered climatic conditions

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Author: Hällfors, Maria1,2; Lehvävirta, Susanna2,3; Aandahl, Tone4;
Organizations: 1Research Centre for Environmental Change, Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Botany Unit, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden
4Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), Division of Environment and Natural Resources, Ås, Norway
5Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden
6Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: PeerJ, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-27


Ongoing anthropogenic climate change alters the local climatic conditions to which species may be adapted. Information on species’ climatic requirements and their intraspecific variation is necessary for predicting the effects of climate change on biodiversity. We used a climatic gradient to test whether populations of two allopatric varieties of an arctic seashore herb (Primula nutans ssp. finmarchica) show adaptation to their local climates and how a future warmer climate may affect them. Our experimental set-up combined a reciprocal translocation within the distribution range of the species with an experiment testing the performance of the sampled populations in warmer climatic conditions south of their range. We monitored survival, size, and flowering over four growing seasons as measures of performance and, thus, proxies of fitness. We found that both varieties performed better in experimental gardens towards the north. Interestingly, highest up in the north, the southern variety outperformed the northern one. Supported by weather data, this suggests that the climatic optima of both varieties have moved at least partly outside their current range. Further warming would make the current environments of both varieties even less suitable. We conclude that Primula nutans ssp. finmarchica is already suffering from adaptational lag due to climate change, and that further warming may increase this maladaptation, especially for the northern variety. The study also highlights that it is not sufficient to run only reciprocal translocation experiments. Climate change is already shifting the optimum conditions for many species and adaptation needs also to be tested outside the current range of the focal taxon in order to include both historic conditions and future conditions.

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Series: PeerJ
ISSN: 2167-8359
ISSN-E: 2167-8359
ISSN-L: 2167-8359
Volume: 8
Article number: e10357
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.10357
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Maria Hällfors was supported by the University of Helsinki Research Fund, LUOVA—Doctoral Programme in Wildlife Biology Research and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation through the Research Centre for Ecological Change, University of Helsinki. The study was supported by the Academy of Finland grant 126915 and Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Copyright information: © 2020 Hällfors et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits using, remixing, and building upon the work non-commercially, as long as it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.