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      Using herbaria to study global environmental change


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          During the last centuries, humans have transformed global ecosystems. With their temporal dimension, herbaria provide the otherwise scarce long‐term data crucial for tracking ecological and evolutionary changes over this period of intense global change. The sheer size of herbaria, together with their increasing digitization and the possibility of sequencing DNA from the preserved plant material, makes them invaluable resources for understanding ecological and evolutionary species’ responses to global environmental change. Following the chronology of global change, we highlight how herbaria can inform about long‐term effects on plants of at least four of the main drivers of global change: pollution, habitat change, climate change and invasive species. We summarize how herbarium specimens so far have been used in global change research, discuss future opportunities and challenges posed by the nature of these data, and advocate for an intensified use of these ‘windows into the past’ for global change research and beyond.

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          Most cited references122

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          Plant phenotypic plasticity in a changing climate.

          Climate change is altering the availability of resources and the conditions that are crucial to plant performance. One way plants will respond to these changes is through environmentally induced shifts in phenotype (phenotypic plasticity). Understanding plastic responses is crucial for predicting and managing the effects of climate change on native species as well as crop plants. Here, we provide a toolbox with definitions of key theoretical elements and a synthesis of the current understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying plasticity relevant to climate change. By bringing ecological, evolutionary, physiological and molecular perspectives together, we hope to provide clear directives for future research and stimulate cross-disciplinary dialogue on the relevance of phenotypic plasticity under climate change. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Spatial patterns of seed dispersal, their determinants and consequences for recruitment.

            Growing interest in spatial ecology is promoting new approaches to the study of seed dispersal, one of the key processes determining the spatial structure of plant populations. Seed-dispersion patterns vary among plant species, populations and individuals, at different distances from parents, different microsites and different times. Recent field studies have made progress in elucidating the mechanisms behind these patterns and the implications of these patterns for recruitment success. Together with the development and refinement of mathematical models, this promises a deeper, more mechanistic understanding of dispersal processes and their consequences.
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              Climate change and evolution: disentangling environmental and genetic responses.

              Rapid climate change is likely to impose strong selection pressures on traits important for fitness, and therefore, microevolution in response to climate-mediated selection is potentially an important mechanism mitigating negative consequences of climate change. We reviewed the empirical evidence for recent microevolutionary responses to climate change in longitudinal studies emphasizing the following three perspectives emerging from the published data. First, although signatures of climate change are clearly visible in many ecological processes, similar examples of microevolutionary responses in literature are in fact very rare. Second, the quality of evidence for microevolutionary responses to climate change is far from satisfactory as the documented responses are often - if not typically - based on nongenetic data. We reinforce the view that it is as important to make the distinction between genetic (evolutionary) and phenotypic (includes a nongenetic, plastic component) responses clear, as it is to understand the relative roles of plasticity and genetics in adaptation to climate change. Third, in order to illustrate the difficulties and their potential ubiquity in detection of microevolution in response to natural selection, we reviewed the quantitative genetic studies on microevolutionary responses to natural selection in the context of long-term studies of vertebrates. The available evidence points to the overall conclusion that many responses perceived as adaptations to changing environmental conditions could be environmentally induced plastic responses rather than microevolutionary adaptations. Hence, clear-cut evidence indicating a significant role for evolutionary adaptation to ongoing climate warming is conspicuously scarce.

                Author and article information

                New Phytol
                New Phytol
                The New Phytologist
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                30 August 2018
                January 2019
                : 221
                : 1 ( doiID: 10.1111/nph.2019.221.issue-1 )
                : 110-122
                [ 1 ] Research Group for Ancient Genomics and Evolution Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology 72076 Tübingen Germany
                [ 2 ] Plant Evolutionary Ecology Institute of Evolution and Ecology University of Tübingen 72076 Tübingen Germany
                Author notes
                [*] [* ] Authors for correspondence:

                Oliver Bossdorf

                Tel: +49 7071 29 78809

                Email: oliver.bossdorf@ 123456uni-tuebingen.de

                Hernán A. Burbano

                Tel: +49 7071 601 1414

                Email: hernan.burbano@ 123456tuebingen.mpg.de

                Author information
                NPH15401 2018-27293
                © 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 13 June 2018
                : 19 July 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 0, Pages: 13, Words: 11268
                Funded by: German Research Foundation
                Award ID: BO 3241/7‐1
                Award ID: BU 3422/1‐1
                Funded by: Presidential Innovation Fund of the Max Planck Society
                Research Review
                Research Reviews
                Custom metadata
                January 2019
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:5.6.4 mode:remove_FC converted:20.06.2019

                Plant science & Botany
                ancient dna,biological invasions,climate change,habitat change,herbarium,phenology,pollution


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