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Experiments under-predict plant responses to climate change

Knowing how plants respond to climate change could be vital to maintaining food supplies in the future. Historical records show how plants alter their flowering and growth patterns according to increased temperatures over the long-term, and ecologists also rely on experimental warming of small field plots to record plant responses to temperature variations in the short-term.

A new study published in Nature has called into question the accuracy of predictions arising from experimental trials, finding that when compared to long-term records the trials tend to under-predict plant responses to temperature by 4-fold for leafing and 8.5-fold for flowering. They have suggested that the methods used to heat the fields cause these discrepancies, and that there needs to be an improvement to the methodologies so that a more accurate picture can be drawn of how plants and ecosystems will adapt to climate change.

The Nature paper can be found at:

Source: Science Daily, 2 May 2012

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