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Higher Temperature at Lower Elevation Sites Fails to Promote Acclimation or Adaptation to Heat Stress During Pollen Germination

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      Abstract

      High temperatures associated with climate change are expected to be detrimental for aspects of plant reproduction, such as pollen viability. We hypothesized that (1) higher peak temperatures predicted with climate change would have a minimal effect on pollen viability, while high temperatures during pollen germination would negatively affect pollen viability, (2) high temperatures during pollen dispersal would facilitate acclimation to high temperatures during pollen germination, and (3) pollen from populations at sites with warmer average temperatures would be better adapted to high temperature peaks. We tested these hypotheses in Pinus edulis, a species with demonstrated sensitivity to climate change, using populations along an elevational gradient. We tested for acclimation to high temperatures by measuring pollen viability during dispersal and germination stages in pollen subjected to 30, 35, and 40°C in a factorial design. We also characterized pollen phenology and measured pollen heat tolerance using trees from nine sites along a 200 m elevational gradient that varied 4°C in temperature. We demonstrated that this gradient is biologically meaningful by evaluating variation in vegetation composition and P. edulis performance. Male reproduction was negatively affected by high temperatures, with stronger effects during pollen germination than pollen dispersal. Populations along the elevational gradient varied in pollen phenology, vegetation composition, plant water stress, nutrient availability, and plant growth. In contrast to our hypothesis, pollen viability was highest in pinyons from mid-elevation sites rather than from lower elevation sites. We found no evidence of acclimation or adaptation of pollen to high temperatures. Maximal plant performance as measured by growth did not occur at the same elevation as maximal pollen viability. These results indicate that periods of high temperature negatively affected sexual reproduction, such that even high pollen production may not result in successful fertilization due to low germination. Acquired thermotolerance might not limit these impacts, but pinyon could avoid heat stress by phenological adjustment of pollen development. Higher pollen viability at the core of the distribution could be explained by an optimal combination of biotic and abiotic environmental factors. The disconnect between measures of growth and pollen production suggests that vigor metrics may not accurately estimate reproduction.

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      A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests

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        Mechanisms of plant survival and mortality during drought: why do some plants survive while others succumb to drought?

        Severe droughts have been associated with regional-scale forest mortality worldwide. Climate change is expected to exacerbate regional mortality events; however, prediction remains difficult because the physiological mechanisms underlying drought survival and mortality are poorly understood. We developed a hydraulically based theory considering carbon balance and insect resistance that allowed development and examination of hypotheses regarding survival and mortality. Multiple mechanisms may cause mortality during drought. A common mechanism for plants with isohydric regulation of water status results from avoidance of drought-induced hydraulic failure via stomatal closure, resulting in carbon starvation and a cascade of downstream effects such as reduced resistance to biotic agents. Mortality by hydraulic failure per se may occur for isohydric seedlings or trees near their maximum height. Although anisohydric plants are relatively drought-tolerant, they are predisposed to hydraulic failure because they operate with narrower hydraulic safety margins during drought. Elevated temperatures should exacerbate carbon starvation and hydraulic failure. Biotic agents may amplify and be amplified by drought-induced plant stress. Wet multidecadal climate oscillations may increase plant susceptibility to drought-induced mortality by stimulating shifts in hydraulic architecture, effectively predisposing plants to water stress. Climate warming and increased frequency of extreme events will probably cause increased regional mortality episodes. Isohydric and anisohydric water potential regulation may partition species between survival and mortality, and, as such, incorporating this hydraulic framework may be effective for modeling plant survival and mortality under future climate conditions.
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          Regional vegetation die-off in response to global-change-type drought.

          Future drought is projected to occur under warmer temperature conditions as climate change progresses, referred to here as global-change-type drought, yet quantitative assessments of the triggers and potential extent of drought-induced vegetation die-off remain pivotal uncertainties in assessing climate-change impacts. Of particular concern is regional-scale mortality of overstory trees, which rapidly alters ecosystem type, associated ecosystem properties, and land surface conditions for decades. Here, we quantify regional-scale vegetation die-off across southwestern North American woodlands in 2002-2003 in response to drought and associated bark beetle infestations. At an intensively studied site within the region, we quantified that after 15 months of depleted soil water content, >90% of the dominant, overstory tree species (Pinus edulis, a piñon) died. The die-off was reflected in changes in a remotely sensed index of vegetation greenness (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), not only at the intensively studied site but also across the region, extending over 12,000 km2 or more; aerial and field surveys confirmed the general extent of the die-off. Notably, the recent drought was warmer than the previous subcontinental drought of the 1950s. The limited, available observations suggest that die-off from the recent drought was more extensive than that from the previous drought, extending into wetter sites within the tree species' distribution. Our results quantify a trigger leading to rapid, drought-induced die-off of overstory woody plants at subcontinental scale and highlight the potential for such die-off to be more severe and extensive for future global-change-type drought under warmer conditions.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            1Department of Biology, San Diego State University , San Diego, CA, United States
            2Department of Biological Sciences and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University , Flagstaff, AZ, United States
            Author notes

            Edited by: Rudy Dolferus, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia

            Reviewed by: Gabriela Vuletin Selak, Institute for Adriatic Crops and Karst Reclamation, Croatia; Juliana S. Medeiros, The Holden Arboretum, United States

            *Correspondence: Lluvia Flores-Rentería, LFloresRenteria@ 123456sdsu.edu

            This article was submitted to Plant Abiotic Stress, a section of the journal Frontiers in Plant Science

            Contributors
            Journal
            Front Plant Sci
            Front Plant Sci
            Front. Plant Sci.
            Frontiers in Plant Science
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            1664-462X
            30 April 2018
            2018
            : 9
            5936790 10.3389/fpls.2018.00536
            Copyright © 2018 Flores-Rentería, Whipple, Benally, Patterson, Canyon and Gehring.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Counts
            Figures: 7, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 92, Pages: 14, Words: 0
            Funding
            Funded by: National Science Foundation 10.13039/100000001
            Award ID: DEB-0816675
            Award ID: DBI-0852098
            Categories
            Plant Science
            Original Research

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