Climate change is expected to cause (sub)arctic plant species to move polewards to track their climatic niche. However, rapid migration requires recruitment from seed, which is rare in arctic regions where most plants reproduce vegetatively. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Milbau et al. examined whether recruitment from seed would improve under warmer and more fertile future conditions. They found that seedling establishment was barely affected by warming and fertilization, suggesting that (sub)arctic species may experience difficulties in tracking their climatic niche. Predictions of future species’ distributions in arctic regions based solely on abiotic factors may therefore overestimate species’ ranges.
Milbau, A., Vandeplas, N., Kockelbergh, F., & Nijs, I. (2017). Both seed germination and seedling mortality increase with experimental warming and fertilization in a subarctic tundra. AoB PLANTS, 9(5). http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plx040