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Some Plants Are Just Too Stubborn to Respond to Local Warming

Paper Reviewed
Pakeman, R.J., Alexander, J., Beaton, J., Brooker, R., Cummins, R., Eastwood, A., Fielding, D., Fisher, J., Gore, S., Hewison, R., Hooper, R., Lennon, J., Mitchell, R., Moore, E., Nolan, A., Orford, K., Pemberton, C., Riach, D., Sim, S., Stockan, J., Trinder, C. and Lewis, R. 2015. Species composition of coastal dune vegetation in Scotland has proved resistant to climate change over a third of a century. Global Change Biology: 10.1111/geb.12999.

Introducing their paper on this hot-topic subject, Pakeman et al. (2015) remind us (as if we needed it) that global warming -- make that climate change -- "is expected to have an impact on plant communities as increased temperatures are expected to drive individual species' distributions polewards." And they therefore felt it important to see how this climate-alarmist prediction was faring in their particular part of the world, i.e. Scotland. So how did they do it?

The 22 researchers conducted what they called a "revisitation study" of 89 coastal Scottish sites some 34 years after their plant species compositions had been originally documented. And this work revealed that "there was little evidence for either [1] species retreat northwards or for [2] plots to become more dominated by species with a more southern distribution." Instead, as they report, "the data indicate the opposite."

And on this note they conclude their paper with the statement that "these coastal habitats have proved resistant to changes driven by climate over a period of a third of a century." Yes, Scottish dune vegetation is stubborn indeed.

Posted 6 January 2016