SeedClim (2009-2014) The role of seeds in a climate – linking germination ecophysiology to population and community ecology.

Background and objectives

The general objective of SeedClim was to provide a mechanistic understanding of how ongoing and future climate change affects plants at landscape to regional scales. To achieve this we developed a new methodological framework allowing us to explore how climate-change effects vary along two major climate gradients, temperature and precipitation, and how these effects scale across levels of organisation from individuals via populations to communities.

The western Norwegian fjord landscapes allow us to set up a grid of study sites along independent temperature and precipitation gradients, enabling us to study the unique and combined effects of a warmer and a wetter climate.

Our 12 experimental sites are located in a climate grid where four levels of annual precipitation (600, 1200, 2000 and 2700 mm) are combined with three levels of mean summer temperatures (7.5, 9.5, and 11.5°C) while keeping all other variables as constant as possible. In collaboration with we installed climate stations that record temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture at each site since 2009.

Within the climatic grid, we have transplanted turfs (25 x 25 cm) of intact plant communities from cold and/or dry conditions towards warmer and/or wetter conditions matching the regional climate projections for the future. In these turfs we monitor plant community and population responses, along with one-off measurements of a range of responses, including microbial communities, bryophytes, and seedling recruitment. 

We have also transplanted seeds of three species pairs of alpine specialists and lowland generalists in the same manner (Veronica alpina vs.  V. officinalis, Viola biflora vs.  V. palustris, Carex capillaris vs.  C. pallescens) to assess climate impacts on plant regeneration. 

Additional experiments

In addition to our main approach, the transplant experiments, we also carried out other experiments and studies under the SeedClim umbrella:

  • A graminoid removal experiment to assess the impacts of changing competitive interactions on plant community and population-level responses along the climate gradients
  • A gap experiment to assess impacts on gap regeneration
  • A seed rain and seedbank study
  • A seed sowing experiment to assess tree seedling recruitment (collaboration with M. Ohlson, NMBU)