Genotypic variation in phenological plasticity

Reciprocal common gardens reveal adaptive responses to warmer springs but not to fall frost

Hillary F. Cooper, Kevin C. Grady, Jacob A. Cowan, Rebecca J. Best, Gerard J Allan, Thomas G Whitham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Species faced with rapidly shifting environments must be able to move, adapt, or acclimate in order to survive. One mechanism to meet this challenge is phenotypic plasticity: altering phenotype in response to environmental change. Here, we investigated the magnitude, direction, and consequences of changes in two key phenology traits (fall bud set and spring bud flush) in a widespread riparian tree species, Populus fremontii. Using replicated genotypes from 16 populations from throughout the species’ thermal range, and reciprocal common gardens at hot, warm, and cool sites, we identified four major findings: (a) There are significant genetic (G), environmental (E), and GxE components of variation for both traits across three common gardens; (b) The magnitude of phenotypic plasticity is correlated with provenance climate, where trees from hotter, southern populations exhibited up to four times greater plasticity compared to the northern, frost-adapted populations; (c) Phenological mismatches are correlated with higher mortality as the transfer distances between provenance and garden increase; and (d) The relationship between plasticity and survival depends not only on the magnitude and direction of environmental transfer, but also on the type of environmental stress (i.e., heat or freezing), and how particular traits have evolved in response to that stress. Trees transferred to warmer climates generally showed small to moderate shifts in an adaptive direction, a hopeful result for climate change. Trees experiencing cooler climates exhibited large, non-adaptive changes, suggesting smaller transfer distances for assisted migration. This study is especially important as it deconstructs trait responses to environmental cues that are rapidly changing (e.g., temperature and spring onset) and those that are fixed (photoperiod), and that vary across the species’ range. Understanding the magnitude and adaptive nature of phenotypic plasticity of multiple traits responding to multiple environmental cues is key to guiding restoration management decisions as climate continues to change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Change Biology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

Geothermal springs
frost
garden
Plasticity
plasticity
phenotypic plasticity
environmental cue
climate
bud
provenance
environmental stress
photoperiod
phenology
freezing
phenotype
environmental change
genotype
Freezing
Climate change
Restoration

Keywords

  • bud flush
  • bud set
  • climate change
  • common garden provenance trial
  • phenology
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • Populus fremontii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Genotypic variation in phenological plasticity : Reciprocal common gardens reveal adaptive responses to warmer springs but not to fall frost. / Cooper, Hillary F.; Grady, Kevin C.; Cowan, Jacob A.; Best, Rebecca J.; Allan, Gerard J; Whitham, Thomas G.

In: Global Change Biology, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Species faced with rapidly shifting environments must be able to move, adapt, or acclimate in order to survive. One mechanism to meet this challenge is phenotypic plasticity: altering phenotype in response to environmental change. Here, we investigated the magnitude, direction, and consequences of changes in two key phenology traits (fall bud set and spring bud flush) in a widespread riparian tree species, Populus fremontii. Using replicated genotypes from 16 populations from throughout the species’ thermal range, and reciprocal common gardens at hot, warm, and cool sites, we identified four major findings: (a) There are significant genetic (G), environmental (E), and GxE components of variation for both traits across three common gardens; (b) The magnitude of phenotypic plasticity is correlated with provenance climate, where trees from hotter, southern populations exhibited up to four times greater plasticity compared to the northern, frost-adapted populations; (c) Phenological mismatches are correlated with higher mortality as the transfer distances between provenance and garden increase; and (d) The relationship between plasticity and survival depends not only on the magnitude and direction of environmental transfer, but also on the type of environmental stress (i.e., heat or freezing), and how particular traits have evolved in response to that stress. Trees transferred to warmer climates generally showed small to moderate shifts in an adaptive direction, a hopeful result for climate change. Trees experiencing cooler climates exhibited large, non-adaptive changes, suggesting smaller transfer distances for assisted migration. This study is especially important as it deconstructs trait responses to environmental cues that are rapidly changing (e.g., temperature and spring onset) and those that are fixed (photoperiod), and that vary across the species’ range. Understanding the magnitude and adaptive nature of phenotypic plasticity of multiple traits responding to multiple environmental cues is key to guiding restoration management decisions as climate continues to change.",
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