Kreyling, J: Winter climate change: a critical factor for temperate vegetation performance, Ecology, 91(7), 1939-1948 (2010)
Key words: EVENT 4
Winter ecological processes are important drivers of vegetation and ecosystem functioning in temperate ecosystems. There, winter conditions are subject to rapid climate change. The potential loss of a longer lasting snow cover with implications to other plant-related climate parameters and overwintering strategies make the temperate zone particularly vulnerable to winter climate change. A formalized literature search in the ISI-Web of Science shows that plant related research on the effects of winter climate change is generally underrepresented. Temperate regions in particular are rarely studied in this respect, although the few existing studies imply strong effects of winter climate change on species ranges, species compositions, phenology, or frost injury. The generally positive effect of warming on plant survival and production may be counteracted by effects such as an increased frost injury of roots and shoots, an increased insect pest risk, or a disrupted synchrony between plants and pollinators. Based on the literature study, gaps in current knowledge are discussed. Understanding the relative effects of interacting climate parameters, as well as a stronger consideration of short term events and variability of climatic conditions is urgent. With respect to plant response, it would be particularly worthwhile to account for hidden players such as pathogens, pollinators, herbivores, or fungal partners in mycorrhization.

last modified 2011-11-09