The Impacts of Extreme Drought and Climate Change on Plant Population Dynamics and Evolution pp. 189-214
Authors: (Robert C. Godfree, Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra, ACT, Australia)
Abstract: One of the key predictions of climate change is that, in some regions, droughts are
likely to increase in frequency and severity. This will have significant implications for the
long-term viability of plant populations, especially where water availability plays a key
role in delineating species ranges. However, while drought and overall aridity are known
to be strong determinants of plant species distributions at the landscape level, much less
is known about the ways in which plant populations respond to changes in drought
regime, or the long-term impacts that extreme droughts have on plant community
composition, structure, and function. While it is known that drought can cause significant
re-structuring of plant communities, relatively few studies have quantified the
environmental and biological factors that promote plant survivorship under acute
moisture stress, especially in topoedaphically heterogeneous landscapes. The capacity for
evolution to rescue plant populations faced with increasingly severe drought from
extinction is also poorly understood. This places severe restrictions on our ability to
predict the impacts of climate change on plant populations in many environments
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